I'm constantly asked about my favorite business resources and tools for folks in the food industry, and I'm happy to share my recommendations based on my decade of food industry experience. So... ta-da, here it is!
I don't have anything on this list that I don't 100% support, trust, and recommend. Most of these resources I use myself or have clients who use them. That being said, some of these product links are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and purchase them, I get a teeny tiny commission (really folks, we're talking about enough for a free cup of coffee every few months! This is not how I support myself). The good news for you is that you pay *nothing* more just because you're clicking through here - it's the same exact price as if you went to Amazon directly. So, are you in? Good. Good! GOOD!
Food business Resources:
Food Craft Institute: a non-profit institute started in 2011, hosting food entrepreneurship courses in all areas of the food industry (and hey! I just happen to have taught a bunch of classes there!).
La Cocina: a non-profit incubator kitchen in San Francisco which helps minority women start and grow food businesses. I've been a volunteer advisor here for over five years!
KitchenTown: a commercial kitchen space in San Mateo, California, focused on supporting packaged food producers. They have wonderful public-facing classes, an on-staff food scientist, a lively cafe to test out products, and affordable, hourly kitchen rentals.
The Food Business School: The Culinary Institute of America's business school, where I am a mentor. They are the world's first business school dedicated to food entrepreneurship & innovation.
Kitchen Table Advisors: A non-profit who empowers sustainable small farms with the business tools, knowledge and resources they need to thrive by providing 1:1 in-depth business mentoring. I have been an advisor here for two years.
Food Tech Connect: An online platform for food innovation. This is the only weekly newsletter that I read on the regular.
Worthy trade shows:
The Good Food Mercantile: Hosted by The Good Food Awards, this small-scale trade show can provide BIG impact if you're a sustainably produced product looking to attract Specialty Food Buyers. It's also much more affordable and less daunting than the "big" shows, below.
Fancy Food: THE trade show for food businesses, this show is hosted bi-annually in San Francisco and New York, by the Specialty Food Association. It's a whirlwind of vendors, hundreds of thousands of square feet of products, buyers, and samples galore. Have at least 10K budgeted to spend on the show before you consider showcasing here.
Expo West: The premier trade show for organic and natural focused foods. Again - it's huge but can be worthwhile depending on your brand and budget. Expo has a fantastic Natural Foods Business School full-day seminar the same week as the trade show (where I’ve been a guest speaker). It’s worth attending!
Sunsbell Strip Lights: The best battery powered LED light strips for lighting up displays and shelving. They're self-adhesive, so you can stick them on the underside of pretty much ANYTHING, and then just flip them on or off as needed, plus you can cut them down to any size. Bring light and attention to your displays with these! I looooove them and install them in almost all retail accounts that I work with.
Acrylic bins: Seems simple, but they're perfect for holding chocolate bars, confections, and small packaged foods - great for organizing displays without adding clutter because they're clear.
Risers: in wood and acrylic (or a multipack!) for display building - don't forget to add height and depth to your retail displays, trade shows, and farmer's market's tables! Just make sure you're buying the correct size risers for your unique display. I like risers that don't have a "frame" on the bottom (so they're just three sided instead of a cube) so that you can merchandise product underneath them as well, creating a "waterfall" effect.
Baskets, Bins, Glass Candy Jars, Mini Chalkboard Signs... there are countless possibilities for display building. Just don't forget to confirm the size of the prop that you're purchasing, and make sure it goes with your "vibe!"
8.5" x 11" Literature Display: Why not display your sell sheet in an eye-catching stand on your trade table?
Canva: THE place where I make all my graphic design files like shelf talkers and sell sheets, plus my social media posts and graphics for my website.
Microphone: If you're going all-in on your own video set up, here's the mic to get! It records beautiful sound even when you have background noise, and plugs right in to a USB port. It couldn't be easier to use. If you record podcasts or audio, this is key.
On-The-Go Lavalier Microphone: If you're recording as you're out-and-about and recording video on your phone (think: trade shows, farmer's markets, grocery stores, etc.) this is the microphone to get! It plugs directly into your phone and makes a world of difference with sound quality.
Here's a round up of my favorite food business and cook books!
The three things that I can't live without in the kitchen. Seriously. Do not buy any other juicer!