Wholesale Readiness Program for Food Entrepreneurs

A collaboration between the Western MA Food Processing Center & the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts

Program Overview

Are you an early-stage, but established food entrepreneur selling a consumer packaged good or value-added product in the northeast? Are you primarily selling direct to consumer and ready to begin selling to stores (or more stores!) in your region? Join us between January and May 2024 to learn from industry experts and entrepreneurs like yourself who have grown their CPG brands in the Northeast.

This program will be hosted primarily online via live sessions on Zoom between January and May of 2023 with an optional (in-person) final event:

  • Ten 1.5 hour virtual workshop sessions (required)
  • Eight 1 hour virtual office hour sessions (suggested)
  • One in-person gathering/wrap up session (optional)
  • Virtual Speed Trading Matchmaking Event (optional)
  • In-person SBN Local Food Trade Show (optional)

Sessions include a mix of:

  • Presentations by industry experts
  • Panel discussions with industry experts and buyers
  • Group discussion
  • Pre-work assessments and suggested homework

Eligibility & Cost

This program is open to established CPG companies who:

  • Utilize at least one locally grown ingredient in their food products.
  • Can demonstrate at least one year of direct to consumer sales.
  • Have a baseline understanding of their production and operational costs.
  • Can commit to at least eight program sessions.
  • Is located in the Northeast (New England & New York)

This is a hands-on program that requires a commitment to be successful. You are a perfect candidate to join our program if you are willing to put in the work to scale your business.

This program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Local Food Promotion Program; there will be no cost to participants.

What you will learn

This program will cover the following topics:

Cost Analysis, Pricing & Profit Margins

Market Analysis, Marketing & Branding

Sales Strategy & Developing Relationships with Store Buyers

Working with Food Distributors

Production scale up, including working with co-packers

Bonus

Participants who attend all sessions will qualify for:

  • Specialized marketing & waived fees at the Local Food Trade Show (March) hosted by the Sustainable Business Network of MA (SBN).
  • Subsidized prototype trial at the Western MA Food Processing Center
  • Free counseling sessions throughout program with program facilitators
  • Free technical assistance offered by a menu of industry experts (link) including experts in branding, marketing, sales, fundraising, product development, food safety, & more.

Questions? Contact Kate Minifie at katem@fccdc.org or 413-774-7204 ext. 104

Program Schedule

*Please note that office hours will be offered on alternate Fridays throughout the course of the program!

Friday January 12, 9:00-10:30am - Course Introduction

Friday January 26 - 9:00-10:30am - Market & Analysis & Creating a Marketing Plan

Friday February 9, 9-10:30 - Branding & Messaging

Friday February 23, 9:00-10:30 - Perfecting Your Pitch (Prep for Local Food Trade Show)

February 27 - Local Food Trade Show hosted by Sustainable Business Network of MA

Late March - Speed Trading Event hosted by Sustainable Business Network of MA

Friday March 8, 9:00-10:30am - Selling Your Product to Retailers

Friday March 22, 9:00-10:30-am - Working with Food Distributors

Friday April 5 - 9:00-10:30 - Analyzing Your Cost of Goods & Setting Appropriate Pricing

Friday April 19, 9:00-10:30am - Scaling Your Production

Friday May 3, 9:00-10:30 - Cash Flow Management

Friday May 17, 9:00-10:30am - Final Presentations

June - In-person networking event 

Testimonials

The (Wholesale Readiness Program) helped grow our small sauce company through providing resources, connections, and expert knowledge of the food processing business. As a new business breaking into the consumer packaged goods space there was a lot we needed to know. By bringing together many small food businesses, the (program) created a great environment to learn and expand our business knowledge. There was an exchange of information and ideas between the members of the cohort that helped our business expand into new distribution paths. (Program organizers) brought in experts on distribution, retail, and production to share their experience and provide us the time to ask questions and receive feedback. They expertly facilitated these sessions to get at how these spaces actually operate. The Food Program provided excellent support to our small business and know they can support other small businesses as well" 

- Matt Dzaugis, Co-owner of Scraps (Portland, ME)

Running a specialty food business is a new venture for me, and there's so much I need to learn how everything works. The (Wholesale Readiness Program) has been helping me tremendously, and I can't say enough good things about it. I love that they invite guest speakers who also share their extensive knowledge and it's great that we participants get to ask questions to them directly.  Also all the participants are fellow small business owners like myself so there's a positive learning environment in the program. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is new to the specialty food business.   

- Aya Forster, Owner of Tasty AF Chili Oil (Fairfield, CT)

"My biggest takeaway (from the program) is that having a community of people going through what you are going through is just as important as the business itself."

-Anonymous