Fourth annual Food Entrepreneur Conference scheduled for April 27-28 in Auburn

Published: April 05, 2016
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For the past three years, experts in the food business have visited Auburn to share their knowledge and experience with those who have a product they believe in but aren't sure of the next step to starting, or growing, their own business. The tradition will continue April 27-28 when the fourth annual Food Entrepreneur Conference is held at the Hubbard Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce in the Auburn Research Park.

Aspiring entrepreneurs, small farmers and small business owners are invited to get expert advice on topics such as selling to a big box store, labeling and testing regulations, finances and marketing, as well as "real-life" advice from a panel of successful food entrepreneur guests. For example, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System offers help with Good Agricultural Practices training, which is required of farmers who sell to big-box stores such as Walmart, as well as guidance on county, state and federal regulations.

The keynote speaker will be Chuck Caraway, owner of Southern Classic Food Group in Brundidge, which produces a variety of sauces, dressings and marinades and is working on a multi-million dollar expansion. Danny Fox of Tanner's Pecans and Candies will also be on hand to speak about his experience managing the famous Mobile-based candy and confection company.

Past speakers include Patricia Barnes, founder of Sister Schubert's; and Nick Pihakis, founder of Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q.

When registering, participants will also be able to choose from a variety of breakout sessions on topics such as Cottage Food Law certification, food processing/catering/food service/bakery, USDA meat products, business aspects of running a food-based business, food trucks and the Alabama fish and seafood industry.

"Auburn University offers a lot of resources for small farmers, aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses but until now there hasn't been a central source to get guidance. That is the main reason for this conference," said Pat Curtis, director of the Auburn University Food System's Institute, which co-sponsors the conference along with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Cost to attend the conference is $150 before April 15 and $200 after that. For more information with a continuously updated program agenda and registration, visit www.aufsi.auburn.edu.