Join us for the “So You Want To Start A Food Company?” Workshop on February 28th. Click here to Register.


If you’re thinking about launching a food company, your timing is excellent.

Innovative food startups are benefitting from the convergence of several market trends, says Jane Dummer, a leading dietitian, food consultant and Innovation Guelph mentor who coaches small- and medium-sized (SME) food and beverage companies on their way to success.

Small food companies are growing at a rate of 11-15 per cent per year, compared to a rate of 1.8 per cent for the top 25 U.S. food manufacturers.

Dummer says SMEs are expanding at a faster clip because they are more agile and can respond more quickly to changing consumer trends, such as the increasing demand for more convenient fully or partially prepared meals and for products that address health goals, such as probiotics for improved gut health. The vegetarian and vegan niche markets are also strong right now, she notes.

Consumers, particularly millennials, are also attracted to small, mission-based companies committed to sustainability, high animal welfare standards and transparent business practices.

As a result, small food companies now have a better chance of securing early-stage investment than ever before. General Mills, Kellogg Co. and Campbell Soup Co. have all launched venture funds, aligning with SMEs to respond more quickly to changes in the marketplace and to offset the high cost of acquisitions.

To help emerging companies ride this wave, Dummer has developed an Innovation Guelph workshop, So you want to start a food company?, which will take place Feb. 28, 2017. It brings together leading industry experts on product development, branding, exporting, marketing, fundraising, packaging and labelling, plus a panel of entrepreneurs who will share their experiences. The TEDx-style presentations include:

  • Dana McCauley, Executive Director of Food Starter, on product development
  • Jason Crawford, Director of Membership and Industry Relations for Food & Beverage Ontario, on sales and marketing
  • Sean Beckingham, President of Branding and Buzzing, on branding
  • Carol Zweep, Manager of Packaging and Food Labelling Services, NSF-GFTC, on labelling and packaging
  • Will Rootham Roberts, Operations Manager, Rootham Gourmet Preserves, on working with a co-packer
  • Casey Eleusiniotis, JonLuca Enterprises Inc., on working with a distributor
  • Carolyn Trudel, Director of Marketing, Farm Boy, on working with a retailer

At the workshop, Dummer will provide an overview of the food value chain and will be joined by other members of the Innovation Guelph team with presentations on:

  • Is there a market for your product? (mentor Don Thompson)
  • Business planning (industry specialist Frank Newman)
  • Cash flow (mentor Niel Palmer)
  • Funding (mentor Mark Goldberg)

Those attending will also benefit from a panel discussion featuring the real-life experiences of the following food & beverage entrepreneurs:

“Food entrepreneurs need to know the market and do their research,” Dummer says. “They need to understand food safety and food labelling regulations. And they need to be aware that moving from the idea stage to the commercial product stage will likely take longer and be more complex than they expect.”

In addition to having the necessary passion, entrepreneurial personality traits and drive to work hard, “they also need to self-educate, and that’s what this course is going to help them do.”


 Learn more and register for the “So you want to start a food company?” workshop. 
Early bird pricing ends Jan. 31.