Auburn University holding fifth annual Food Entrepreneur Conference April 26-27

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Four years ago, the Auburn University Food Systems Institute, or AUFSI, combined its knowledge of food safety and food business to organize the first Food Entrepreneur Conference for aspiring entrepreneurs and small farmers. Many other university departments and state organizations supported the event and participation has grown.

This spring’s fifth annual Food Entrepreneur Conference will kick off April 26 with two guest speakers: Trey Sims, co-founder of Dadeville-grown Wickles Pickles, and Tiffany Denson, owner of T’Lish Foods dressings and marinades, which can be found at Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Publix stores through Alabama and Florida. The two-day event will be held at the CASIC building in the Auburn Research Park on South College Street.

Hosted by AUFSI in cooperation with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the event is focused on offering aspiring and existing small food entrepreneurs “real life” advice for growing their business as well as providing an opportunity to make invaluable business connections. Representatives from the Alabama Department of Public Health along with ACES will cover topics such as food safety, regulations and labeling, while a professor from Auburn’s Harbert College of Business will cover business marketing. Jimmy Wright from Opelika’s Wrights Market and a Kroger representative will discuss food entrepreneurship from the grocers’ points of view.

Denson and Sims will be joined by other successful food entrepreneurs, including Jay Short of Jala Jala Foods, and Ken and Julie Ledbetter of Firetruck Bar-B-Que.

“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, AUFSI director.

Participants can also choose from a variety of breakout sessions on topics such as Cottage Food Law certification, which allows entrepreneurs to operate some types of food businesses from their homes; catering/food service/bakery; USDA meat products; food trucks; and the innovative aquaponics industry.

Registration for the two-day event is $150 before April 19 and $200 after that date. A full conference agenda and registration is available online or call Regina Crapps at 334-844-7456.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.