Wholesale Readiness Program for Food Entrepreneurs
A collaboration between the Western MA Food Processing Center & the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts
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:
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.
*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
Tuesday February 9, 9-10:30 - Branding & Messaging
Friday February 23, 9:00-10:30 - Perfecting Your Pitch (Prep for Local Food Trade Show)
Early March - 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
April 5 - 9:00-10:30 - Analyzing Your Cost of Goods & Setting Appropriate Pricing
April 19, 9:00-10:30am - Scaling Your Production
May 3, 9:00-10:30 - Cash Flow Management
May 17, 9:00-10:30am - Final Presentations
June - In-person networking event
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."