Some Resources for Aspiring Specialty Food Developers

National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, www.specialtyfood.com

NASFT is a nonprofit business trade association to promote the specialty food industry, and it sponsors the huge Fancy Food Shows annually in New York and San Francisco, including professional seminars on various aspects of specialty food businesses. The website also includes webinars, videos, and books, including Getting Started in the Specialty Food Business.


Better Process Control School, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M University System

This weeklong course is presented annually for FDA certification in food processing and packaging systems and FDA record-keeping. It's taught by food scientist and process authority Dr. Al B. Wagner. There doesn't seem to be a website, but a description/syllabus is on the Texas Food Processors Association website, www.tfpa.org/generalinformation.htm. For questions and info, contact Wagner at a-wagner@tamu.edu.


Better Bites of Austin, www.betterbitesofaustin.com

Better Bites of Austin is trade association for makers of local, all-natural food, with the purpose of developing opportunities for members and promoting healthy food in Austin. Meetings are held the second Monday of every month, 6-7:30pm. Visitors are welcome; check website for program and location of each meeting.


'Sell Your Specialty Food: Market, Distribute, and Profit From Your Kitchen Creation,' by Stephen F. Hall, Kaplan Publishing, 2008, 320 pp., $29.95

In this retitled 5th edition of From Kitchen to Market, the author focuses on professionalization, outlining various food marketing opportunities and strategies, identifying appropriate markets for products, creating niche markets, preparing products for market, advertising and promotion, government regulations, etc. The author also maintains the website www.specialtyfoodresource.com.


Food Entrepreneur Resource Center, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, www.nysaes.cornell.edu/necfe

Although partially New York-centric, this website contains valuable universal information about the logistics of starting a specialty food business, including a list of pros and cons and a step-by-step list of the basic tasks required for a food-product start-up, including product development, business planning, labeling, marketing, and production.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov/food

This FDA website includes extensive and surprisingly accessible information about regulations and compliance regarding food production, including food safety, nutrition, ingredients, packaging, labeling, facilities, etc.


Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, www.cityofaustin.org/health/consumer_health_certification.htm

Visit this site for general information and details on classes and fees for various food-related certifications and permits.


The Kitchen Space, www.thekitchenspace.com

The website for this commercial kitchen facility contains very useful information about local permits and certifications required for food businesses in Austin. The Kitchen Space also teaches classes on how to start a food business.

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