Food Business Incubators

The rapid rise in demand for specialty products and services such as jams, salsas, high end coffees, healthy meals, and food trucks, is encouraging many new, hopeful food entrepreneurs to enter the market every year. With this emergence of small food entrepreneurs, many are wondering whether their community needs a food business incubator, and how this incubator might benefit the overall food culture of their region.

There are almost two hundred food business incubators nationwide and they take many forms. Some have a shared-use kitchen that food entrepreneurs and/or farmers can rent to produce and store their products. Others offer contract manufacturing services. Some are focused on produce only, while others allow tenants to process meat, cheese and other goods. Some provide mentorship and training while others provide business services such as sales and distribution support. Some are designed to support economic revitalization while others are designed solely to support agricultural producers. Some are tiny, serving a handful of entrepreneurs while others are large scale and bring together a large network of entrepreneurs.

New Venture Advisors helps clients determine how to best structure a food business incubator to meet their specific goals as well as the needs of their region’s food entrepreneurs and farmers.

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New Venture Advisors is a team of business consultants specializing in local food system planning and new enterprise development.

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Food Business Incubator Projects

LISC Phoenix Commercial Kitchen Strategy

Phoenix and Mesa, AZ

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, known as LISC, is one of the largest nonprofits in the country supporting projects to revitalize communities, transforming them into healthy and sustainable places to live, work, and raise families. Two projects in metro Phoenix, a cultural center and an affordable housing development, include commercial kitchens that will operate with a missional emphasis on job creation and serving small businesses, particularly local, women, native and minority-owned. NVA is assisting in building the capacity of the management teams, and the refinement of their operating models. (2017)

The Hatchery

Chicago, IL

In partnership with IFF, Accion Chicago and the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, New Venture Advisors assessed the market demand for a large, innovative food business incubator to be developed in East Garfield Park and serve as a job creator in this lower income neighborhood. The incubator would combine private production kitchens, a shared-use kitchen and comprehensive business support services, filling a much needed gap for food entrepreneurs in Chicago. (2016)

Commonwealth Kitchen Strategic Roadmap

Boston, MA

This innovative, non-profit kitchen incubator is among a small but growing class of kitchen incubators with an ambitious vision and complex model—combining shared kitchen space with hands-on business support for entrepreneurs, building co-packing capabilities, growing a brand and a sales and marketing arm, and operating with a specific focus on minority and women entrepreneurs. Through a detailed review of the current organization and business lines, NVA developed a set of proposed paths for the organization to follow to attain its financial goals, developed comprehensive financial projections for these strategies and established a five-year roadmap for implementation. (2017)

Worcester Regional Food Hub

Worcester, MA

The Worcester Regional Food Hub has been a collaborative effort between the Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts (REC) and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, made possible by the generous support of the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. The food hub, piloted as a kitchen incubator and aggregation hub in 2016, seeks to enhance the regional economy through improved producer and consumer networks, targeted workforce development programs, and business incubation. NVA is assisting REC and its partners in assessing the market and developing a business plan for the hub’s next stage of growth. (2017)

Floyd Food Company

Floyd, VA

SustainFloyd is a nonprofit organization in rural Virginia that develops new ideas to support the next generation of Blue Ridge Plateau’s rural community while preserving its resources, traditions and heritage. New Venture Advisors worked with SustainFloyd to develop a business plan for a value-added agricultural center to process and market locally-produced fruits, vegetables and dairy products. The business launched in 2014 as the Floyd Food Company, beginning with a line of frozen soups. (2013)

Headwater Food Hub

Ontario, NY

Headwater Foods, Inc. is a thriving food hub in upstate New York with a wholesale business line and a CSA service. New Venture Advisors worked with Headwater on a market assessment to quantify institutional demand for fresh cut produce, in support of the hub’s plans for a new processing business line. (2015)