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UGA workshop designed for potential new food business owners

University of Georgia food scientist Anand Mohan says attending his two-day workshop will help those deciding whether or not to start a new food business to come to a decision.

“At the end of the class, most graduates determine they have two options: they either say, ‘No, a new food business is not for me’ or ‘Yes, I can work it out and get my product to market,’” he said.

The “Starting a New Food Business” workshop will be Oct. 6-7 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on the UGA campus in Griffin, Georgia. The cost is $150 and includes instructional materials, lunch both days and refreshments.

The UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has previously offered the course as a one-day training. To encourage more participation and to meet new food company owners’ needs, Mohan has “revamped” the workshop.

“It is now two, full days, and we cover a broad range of topics, from regulations, to food safety, to product development, marketing and choosing a co-packer or shared kitchen,” he said.

As a result of the UGA workshop, 25 to 30 new food products have been launched in the past two years. The class is designed for Georgians, but typically attracts participants from Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, he said.

In addition to the breadth of material covered, participants will benefit from the expertise of the instructors. UGA faculty and representatives from the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will lead the workshop.

"Top-of-the-line faculty will be teaching the course in a commercial kitchen,” Mohan said. “In the last three workshops, we had a chef demo with a Food Network chef, and the UGA Small Business Development Center did a session on business plans. It’s really a team effort.”

The workshop includes hands-on demonstrations and a tour of the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center (Food PIC) in Griffin. Newly named Food PIC Director Kirk Kealey will also lead sessions.

Kealey spent the last 30 years helping to develop and launch products like Mountain Dew, Tropicana juices and Dove Chocolate. Now he’ll do the same for small and large food businesses in Georgia and across the Southeast through UGA’s Food PIC. The center is designed to help new food business owners with product development, packaging, food safety, consumer acceptance and marketing.

“This workshop is so popular because we give participants one-on-one attention and allow them time to network together. And the final day includes a two-hour panel discussion when they can ask any questions they still have,” said Mohan.

Participants are encouraged to bring samples of their own food products for tasting on the final day of the workshop.

Mohan calls the second day of the workshop the “high energy day.” “By this time, they all know they have the same problems and the same dreams, and they are beginning to open up to one another,” he said.

The new food business workshop has also been offered in Tifton and Savannah, Georgia, and future sessions have been requested for the Albany, Georgia, area and Atlanta. “We have more demand for the class than we can fulfill,” he said.

Register for the workshop online at https://estore.uga.edu/C27063_ustores/web/store_cat.jsp?STOREID=42&CATID=205. For more information on other UGA food science Cooperative Extension courses, see the calendar at http://efsonline.uga.edu or call (706) 542-2574.

Chef teaching a class
Chef teaching a class

Chef Matthew Raiford, owner of The Farmer & The Larder in Brunswick, Ga., is among the experts who have helped lead University of Georgia Extension's "Starting a New Food Business" class.

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Chef Matthew Raiford, owner of The Farmer & The Larder in Brunswick, Ga., is among the experts who have helped lead University of Georgia Extension's "Starting a New Food Business" class. Download Image
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