By Nicole Beattie, UHMC
Kahului – Think you have what it takes to launch or expand a locally-grown food business, but not sure where to start? To help value-added food producers turn their ideas into reality, EdVenture at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College has developed a series of four non-credit Food Industry Fundamentals classes that will help participants develop differentiated, value-added, and safe specialty-food products.
“Nationwide we’re seeing a tremendous demand for locally-produced food products, but sometimes a farmer or food entrepreneur isn’t sure how to turn fresh fruit and vegetables into a safe, packaged (value-added) product,” said Lou Cooperhouse, a consultant to the Maui Food Innovation Center. “Food Industry Fundamentals will help participants understand the overall process better, but the classes will also offer information specific to Maui County. The goal is to support our local food producers so they can find new channels for their business, while providing more locally-grown products to consumers.”
Over the last two years, Cooperhouse has met with businesses throughout Hawaiʻi to listen to and collaboratively find solutions for the unique challenges faced by island farmers and food businesses. The Fundamentals classes progress from an overview of the market to ensuring that legal and safety requirements are met. Courses include Food Trends and Food Marketplace Overview; Food Technology and Product Development; Quality Assurance and Food Safety Principles; and Good Manufacturing Practices For Food Producers. “While some aspects of launching a food business, such as food safety and process technologies are the same no matter where you are, we’ve take a careful look at opportunities and needs that are specific to Maui,” says Cooperhouse.
The courses are designed for farmers interested in developing food products to increase profitability, businesses that want to expand their food offerings, new food businesses, and employees wanting to increase their knowledge of the food industry.
“This is an excellent opportunity for capacity building by our farmers and ranchers to not only increase their bottom line but add to our level of self sufficiency!” said Mae Nakahata of the Maui County Farm Bureau. “We hope this provides another mechanism to keep our multi-generation farm families in business and foster new farm operations on Maui.”
Ken Love of Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers believes that understanding food industry fundamentals is critical for value-added producers. “Lou makes you think. Not only in terms of value added products but through the whole process of development and supply chain access.”
The series will be offered on April 29th and 30th from 8:30am to 4:00pm at the Kahului campus, and can be taken in order over a two-day period, which is recommended, or as a single course offering if preferred. Certificates of Participation will be provided upon completion of each course.
Space is limited. Each seminar is $89, or $300 for the series (the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th classes are discounted if booked at the same time as the first class). To register for the series or a class on April 29th and 30th, please call EdVenture at 808-984-3231.
About Lou Cooperhouse: Lou is President of Food Spectrum, LLC, and has 30-years of experience in the food industry. During his career, he has served in senior leadership positions at numerous organizations including venture-funded new business startups, mid-sized and family-run companies, multinational corporations, foodservice and retail operations, university entrepreneurship centers, and food industry trade associations. As a result, Lou has gained expertise with a broad array of technologies and a diverse array of value-added foods.
About the Maui Food Innovation Center: The Food Innovation Center is a project of the University of Hawai`i Maui College (UHMC), created to solve the “missing link” problem for Hawai`i’s local farmers and food manufacturers. It is being developed in collaboration with the Maui County Farm Bureau. The Center will serve as a hub for food industry resources and will provide food-related business and product development services as well as workforce training. A comprehensive value-added facility is being planned, which can be used to develop, produce, and package such items as fresh cut and frozen fruits and vegetables, marinated meats, dried and baked goods, sauces, and juices.
The Maui Food Innovation Center is partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in the amount of $759,350. Funding does not pay for student costs to participate.