CLASS OF 2019
Three emerging food businesses have been chosen as winners in the 2019 Maker to Market food business accelerator run in partnership by Lakewinds Food Co-op and nonprofit food hub The Good Acre. Local small-batch food producers were invited to apply for the program from January-February and the winners were selected by a committee and tasting panel of food professionals including Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Yia Vang.
The winning makers include Julie Johnson of JJ’s Redhead Salsa, Patricia Parks of Tasty Treats and Fancy Sweets, and Katie Iwanin and Amanda Zweerink of Wallflour Foods.
The Maker to Market accelerator provides local food makers with tools and resources to scale their businesses to serve Lakewinds’ retail markets.
“I’m very excited about being chosen for the Maker to Market program,” says Patricia Parks. “I love learning new things and am really excited to see my product on a grocery store shelf.”
Each year, three to five makers are chosen to participate. This year’s program generated applications from makers with high quality products and great stories behind them. The criteria by which the committee and tasting panel evaluated applicants and ultimately chose the winners include:
· Do the ingredients adhere to Lakewinds’ product standards?
· Will the product add a local item to the Lakewinds’ merchandise mix?
· Is the maker able to use produce from The Good Acre’s network of small scale farms?
· What’s the likelihood for business success of the product and the brand?
“Small, local food entrepreneurs don’t generally have access to resources to assist them in moving from their home kitchens to commercial kitchens and retail shelves,” said Dale Woodbeck, general manager of Lakewinds Food Co-op. “Our owners have told us that they want the co-op to source more local products. Introducing local, shelf-stable or freezable products is a difficult process—there are really many processes that the entrepreneur must master while cooking up their products. The Maker to Market accelerator provides many resources, peer networking, and support, as makers transition from home kitchen to market.”
JJ’s Redhead Salsa features two varieties – Smokey and Spicy. Tasty Treats and Fancy Sweets offers a frozen take-and-bake apple crisp. Wallflour Foods is a line of Belgian liege-style waffles with savory and sweet varieties. The chosen makers will receive the following benefits by participating in Maker to Market:
· Subsidized kitchen time in the shared commercial kitchen space at The Good Acre
· Training in how to scale up in a commercial kitchen
· Advice on branding, social media, packaging, labeling, and ingredient sourcing
· Information on how to work with a retailer and enter product distribution
This spring, the makers will attend three workshops to learn the basics of selling wholesale into the retail market, how to scale to a commercial kitchen, and product packaging and design. In June and July, they’ll start working in the commercial kitchen to begin the production phase, and will get their product packaging and labeling ready for the store launch. In late August to early September, the products will debut on the shelves at all three Lakewinds’ stores.
“As a food hub, we are excited to connect farmers and food makers for triple-bottom line benefit: farmers sell more produce, makers connect to local sustainable ingredient sources, and co-op shoppers enjoy the innovative fruits (and vegetables!) of their labor!” said Emily Paul, development director at The Good Acre.
One of the 2018 Maker to Market winners is Jennifer Alexander of Jen’s Jars. “Not only did Maker to Market get me retail-ready, it introduced me to an amazing community at The Good Acre where I had great mentors,” said Alexander. “The program is telling of the values and product quality at Lakewinds. The companies whose products they choose use local, nourishing ingredients that are good for you. I think more companies should be doing this.”