See Alberta Venture's April 2013 Issue for my piece titled: Secret Sauce.
Here's an excerpt:
While there may be an increase in consumer demand
for local products, it still remains to be seen whether Alberta food
processors can scale up to fully capitalize on it.
There are some notable success stories of Alberta food processers
scaling up from the extremely local farmers’ market setting to retail
shelves. CattleBoyZ BBQ Sauce, with its signature beer-style,
latch-topped bottle, had its first retail sales in a small butcher shop
in Calgary’s Eau Claire Market.
Now it’s sold in stores across Canada. Initially made and bottled in
Joe Ternes’s kitchen, it was his family’s time-tested recipe. In 1994,
Karen Hope was the Eau Claire Market manager, and she loved his sauce.
Hope, a marketing specialist, and Ternes went on to form CattleBoyZ.
Together they established the brand and found a manufacturer, and after a
year of perseverance (and a bit of luck), the sauce was selling as a
seasonal product in western Costco locations.
But the move from the farmers’ market to larger retailers’ shelves
rarely happens so quickly. Another successful Alberta food processor,
Kinnikinnick Foods, grew more organically, thanks mostly to the powers
of the Internet. In the 1990s Kinnikinnick’s gluten-free baking products
could be bought at Edmonton’s Old Strathcona Market, and at the time it
was one of the few such products available. Jerry Bigam, the company’s
current CEO, was a big fan and regular customer, and he decided to buy
the company with the hope of expanding its operations. But after
struggling to get shelf space at major retailers, he turned to online
sales in order to grow the business. “We were the first company to
supply perishable food on the Internet,” Bigam says. “For $10, we could
deliver product anywhere in North America overnight.”
The online business helped them grow their sales by 60 to 70 per cent
annually, and eventually major food distributors started calling them.
They now supply product to 65 warehouses and 10,000 stores across North
America. But for many local, small-scale processors interested in
scaling up, there are significant and often systemic challenges. Ted
Johnston, the president and CEO of the Alberta Food Processors
Association, has some sobering advice for anyone looking to make the
leap. “First,” he says, “they need to buy a giant bottle of
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