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Customer at Food Truck

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.-A barbecue sauce with just the right amount of tang, a mapped-out idea for an Asian-fusion food truck, or a famous family recipe that’s just waiting to be shared with the world – these are just a few potential success stories of the food business. Aspiring and small entrepreneurs are invited to learn how to grow their business at the seventh installment of the Food Entrepreneur Conference April 16-17 at the Center for Advanced Science, Innovation, and Commerce (CASIC) in the Auburn Research Park.

Experts from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System,  the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Alabama Grocers Association and more will cover topics such as labeling and testing regulations, food safety, selling to a big box store, financing, and business marketing. Ashlee Jones, media and promotions manager at Coca-Cola, and Jay Short, owner of Jala Jala Foods based in Huntsville, give keynote talks.

Dr. Jean Weese, an Alabama Extension food scientist, said the conference offers many resources for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“Starting a food business is far more complicated than many people might imagine,” said Weese, who is also the associate director of Auburn University’s Food Systems Institute.  “Participants will learn about critical elements of the food business from food safety to regulations to marketing.

“Additionally, they will get to hear from people who are running their own successful businesses, Weese said. “Hearing from peers can be extremely valuable to people who want to launch their own.”

The event will also feature a panel of successful food business owners who will share personal success and missteps in food entrepreneurship, including Robert Armstrong, owner of G Momma’s “Southern style bite-sized cookies;” Tiffany Denson of T’Lish Dressings and Marinades; Beth Hornsby of Hornsby Farms; and Amber Anderson, owner of FPH Bakery in Union Springs.

Jimmy Wright of Wright’s Market in Opelika will also be on hand to provide the viewpoint of a smaller, local grocer, and Ellie Taylor from the Alabama Grocer’s Association will provide entrepreneurs with need-to-know information about working with both big-box and small grocery stores. Two Auburn-Opelika area food truck owners will tell their stories and give advice relating to this newer, fast-growing segment of the food service industry.

When registering, attendees can also choose two 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.

The event is sponsored by Alabama Extension and Auburn University Food Systems Institute.

Cost to attend is $175 until April 1 and $225 after that until the day of the conference. For more information,  program agenda and registration, visit www.aufsi.auburn.edu/2019-food-entrepreneur-conference or call Regina Crapps at (334) 844-7456. Follow the Food Entrepreneur Conference Facebook page for the most recent conference updates.

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