Farmers usually know all about how to raise their crops and livestock, but when it comes to marketing their product they may be in the dark. They might aspire to sell to bigger retailers such as Walmart or Kroger, for example, but don’t know where to start. And they might want to expand, but know little about business plans and financing.
That’s why the Auburn University Food Systems Institute and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System are sponsoring the fourth annual Food Entrepreneur Conference, designed for people who produce and process the foods that feed Alabamians. The two-day conference is scheduled for April 27-28 in Auburn.
"Auburn University offers a lot of resources for aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses – including farmers, but until now there hasn’t been a central source to get guidance. That is the main reason for the conference," said Pat Curtis, AUFSI director.
Auburn University has assisted hundreds of individuals get through the maze of requirements to sell their food products, and a highlight of the conference is always the talks by successful entrepreneurs who offer "real-life advice" about avoiding the mistakes they made.
One of the sessions this year will deal with Alabama’s new Cottage Food Law, passed in 2013. The law allows for the sale of certain food products deemed non-hazardous from a person’s home, eliminating the cost of a commercial kitchen and the need for selling through a retail outlet or farmer’s market.
Experts from the Small Business Development Center will offer tips about creating business and marketing plans and finding financing. Offering information about their areas of specialty will be meat scientists and experts from the interdisciplinary Aquaculture and Fisheries Business Institute that focuses on solutions for the region’s fisheries-related businesses. A highlight is the small group breakout sessions on the second day, when aspiring entrepreneurs meet with specialists in their area of interest.
Keep up with plans for the fourth annual Food Entrepreneur Conference at the AUFSI (www.aufsi.auburn.com) or the Food Entrepreneur Conference Facebook page.