Program Provides Assistance to Start-Up Food Companies

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Jan. 17, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. — Have you ever thought of starting a food business? Do you have a favorite family recipe you would like to bring to the marketplace? Are you a producer considering adding value to an agricultural product, or maybe you're a restaurateur or chef exploring the marketing of a house specialty.

Those are just a few of many scenarios that are addressed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Processing Center's National Food Entrepreneur Program. "Since 1989 the Food Entrepreneur Assistance Program has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs throughout the United States explore and realize their dream of starting a food business," said Jill Gifford, program manager.

The program was designed specifically to assist food manufacturing entrepreneurs. It begins with a one-day Recipe to Reality seminar.  The seminar provides entrepreneurs with an understanding of the key factors that need to be considered when starting a food manufacturing business. Following the seminar, participants may choose to enter the Product to Profit phase of the program which provides specific and comprehensive assistance to each individual as they develop their company and introduce their product to the market place.

 Norberto Gerardo, president of N & T Gerardo Foods in Lincoln, completed the program in 2010.  Gerardo, originally from Mexico, took his traditional family recipe for chorizo and developed a business. 

 "Starting a small business can be a very daunting process.  The National Food Entrepreneur Program assisted me through all the necessary steps and helped me achieve my dream of starting a small food company. Consumers are seeking out authentic ethnic and locally produced foods. This demand has helped put my Mexican Style Chorizo in many grocery stores throughout Nebraska," Gerardo said.

The Recipe to Reality seminar is offered several times throughout the year. The next seminar will be in Lincoln on March 22 with a registration deadline of March 7.  Early registration for seminars is encouraged due to limited space. To receive a National Food Entrepreneur Program information packet and registration form please contact: Jill Gifford, Food Processing Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 143 H.C. Filley Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0928, phone 402-472-2819, e-mail:, Web site:

Jill Gifford
Food Processing Center

Dan Moser
IANR News Service

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