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Central Valley Goes to Market, a Recap

California is a foodie state if there ever was one. There’s no better place to grow food, explore food innovations or market food. We have teamed up with the Specialty Foods Association to offer up a full day of learning about the food industry: business and marketing opportunities, how to stay viable and competitive, and financing. On April 22, 2017, we brought this top-notch training to the Central Valley with our partners Fresno CDFI and the Fresno State SBDC and many others. Over 100 business owners or start-ups attended. (Photo: Claudia Viek, Shufina English and Tim Thiesen, Reedley Chamber of Commerce.) Tobias Teran, owner of Tofas Mediterranean Grill, inspired us with the story of how he started a business in the Great Recession and grew it to four restaurants. He advised people that you need a passion for what you do and that you need to put in the hard work and be willing to do something that your neighbor isn’t. Ron Tanner laid out the landscape of the Specialty Foods Industry and where the opportunities are. Some of his key take-aways were:
  • Lots of money is in specialty foods: $124 billion.
  • The top 10 segments make up 47% of the market – cheese, frozen, chips and snacks, coffees, breads and baked goods, candy, condiments, yogurt and prepared meats.
  • Snacks had 28% of the market with 16% growth.
  • Interests are shifting to sustainable, organic, local and eco-friendly.
  • Specialty foods are expanding market share.
  • Fresh, healthy grab-and-go products are expanding.
  • Online sales are expanding.
And the full house was introduced to the many resources in the Central Valley that can help build people start and grow a food business. They include: The Clovis Culinary Center, the Downtown Business Hub, Better Blackstone New Market Incubator, Superior Food Safety, Central Valley AgPLUS, Mexican Consulate, the Fresno State SBDC, Fresno CDFI and Feed the Hunger. They provide business mentoring, marketing, help with permits, websites, and of course financing. Participants also learned practical information on how to figure out your target market, how to get to products onto the shelves, and how to meet with buyers. The Agenda Morning Program
  • Networking Breakfast
  • Opening Remarks
  • Regional Overview – How can we establish a ‘pro-business/slow growth’ economy that formally supports and recognizes job creation through entrepreneurship in the food sector? Who are the local pioneers and partners? What role does tourism play? What opportunities lie in other offshoots of the food sector? What are Value Added Producer Grants?
    • Victor Bribiesca, Small Business Administration
    • Tobias Teran, owner of Tofas Mediterranean Grill
  • Creating a Specialty Food Community and How the SFA Supports the Sector, a national overview. What does the future hold for food? What are current trends? What does it take to be successful in today’s market?
    • Ron Tanner, Specialty Food Association (Data, Trends, and Growth Opportunities)
  • Supporting Regional Food Entrepreneurship Economy with Local Tools
    • Eduardo Gonzalez, Fresno State SBDC (facilitator)
    • Shawn Miller, Clovis Culinary Center
    • Yeri Olivares, Downtown Business Hub
    • Chanel Ruiz-Mendez, Better Blackstone, New Market Incubator
    • Tom Matott, Better Blackstone, New Market Incubator
  • Are You Ready to Grow Your Business? (YES!!!)
    • Ron Tanner, Specialty Food Association
Networking Luncheon Afternoon Program
  • Break into the Market: Who and How to Sell To
    • Ron Tanner, Specialty Food Association (moderator)
    • Brad Van Dam – Marich Confectionary
    • Sell to specialty food retailers: Cathy Leland, Market Hall FOods
  • Financial Round Table, Serving the Sector
    • Shufina English – CAMEO (facilitator)
    • Ana Medina, Fresno CDFI
    • Maria Waters, Feed the Hunger
    • Scott Rogalski, Business Loan Consultant, SBDC
  • Food Safety Overview – Oscar Camacho, Superior Food Safety
  • Looking to Import – Clarissa Vivian, Mexican Consulate
  • How can California help your business – Angie Underswood, State of California Board of Equalization
Networking Reception Meet the Regional Food Producers and taste their products and local wine.  Yum!]]>