To market, to market--with a little help from OSU's Food Innovation Center

Article photo
Sarah Masoni, FIC's product development manager, consults with a client. Photo by Lynn Ketchum

As consumers become increasingly interested in how their food is made, more entrepreneurs want to bring their own products to market. Whether chasing a trend or sharing a favorite personal recipe, these aspiring businesspeople turn to Sarah Masoni and her team at the Food Innovation Center (FIC).

The FIC’s menu includes Fridays@FIC, offering six different classes for beginning food producers. Masoni helps them work out their product’s formulation and production costs and do their market research. She reviews packaging and ensures that labels meets FDA standards. She coaches them on showing their products at trade shows and chefs’ dinners, including some held at the FIC itself.

“Sometimes I call myself ‘the CEO to a thousand food companies,’” Masoni says.

An entrepreneur whose idea is taking off can lease the facility’s commercial kitchen/food business incubator and work with the FIC’s sensory experts to have their product tested for consumer satisfaction. Food safety experts at FIC help them determine their product’s shelf life and address other safety concerns.

Masoni estimates that her program has helped 4,000 entrepreneurs and has helped launch 1,200 new food products. Past clients include success stories like Salt & Straw, Ruby Jewel, and Chez Marie.

“Oregon ranks seventh in the nation for production of specialty crops,” Masoni says, “so Oregon lends itself to optimal value-added food product development.”

Source: Sarah Masoni, product development manager, Food Innovation Center