When you go to a supermarket, everything seems so orderly, stocked neatly on shelves, in bins and in coolers. But behind the scenes, getting food from farm to factory to grocery store fridge — a process known as supply chain management — can be complicated and messy. While some of the bigger food businesses handle supply chain internally, many others, including smaller and start-up businesses turn to the expertise of consultants with years of experience. One of these is Will Madden, co-founder of Chicago-based Whole Brain Consulting. FamilyFarmed interview Will about his business’ origins, why food businesses need contract manufacturers, the biggest supply chain challenges… and why he made the highest bid for a CEO yacht cruise on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan that was a silent auction prize at last April’s Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator (GFA) staged its annual Application Celebration and Networking Event at Chicago’s 1871 business incubator on Tuesday. It included a panel of four GFA graduates moderated by Scott Mandell, a program “supermentor” who founded hugely successful Enjoy Life Foods. And when Scott asked the alums about the biggest change in their businesses fostered by the Accelerator, the response by Mitch Wasserman of Full Belly Foods drew chuckles from the full-house audience.
An anniversary is an occasion for celebration. And that is just what Chicago’s Local Foods will be doing this Saturday (June 24) with its Tacos and Tiki Party to mark the 2nd anniversary of its retail store in the city’s Bucktown neighborhood. Anniversaries are also times for reflection, though. As CEO Andrew Lutsey looks back, he views the first two years as successful, but says that it has been a learning experience that has produced some changed expectations and priorities.
Johnny Anderes is head chef of The Kitchen Chicago, with a beautiful location overlooking the north bank of the Chicago River. The Kitchen restaurant group was founded in Boulder, Colorado in 2004 and features delicious food — with a strong focus on local and sustainable sourcing — at its restaurants in Colorado, Chicago and Memphis. Johnny will join Paul Kahan and an all-star lineup of chefs who are participating in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser for Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed, which will be held at The Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday, April 30.
The Hatchery, a food business incubator in Chicago, started up just last year with a small space but big plans. Those plans are now taking a giant step toward fruition with $2 million in economic development funding that is being provided by the City of Chicago. The Hatchery also will participate in FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival & Conference March 17 and 18.
“Team Leverage,” a collaboration of three major Good Food entities in the Chicago region, faced serious competition from four other strong finalists in the Food to Market Challenge. The team won the $500,000 award because of a strong social purpose — bringing healthy, nutritious, affordable food to more school children and their families — plus a distribution model with strong potential to be expanded in Chicago and replicated elsewhere.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator held on event to promote applications for its next program session, which runs from November to April. And the four program grads who took part in a panel discussion agreed: Entrepreneurs seeking to scale up their small Good Food business and dramatically expand their networks should apply.
There is a strongly held belief in the Good Food movement that local food can spur both urban and rural revitalization, and that vision is getting clearer in the state of Kentucky. Louisville has led the way with a strategic focus on finding and connecting entrepreneurs along the regional supply chain from farm to table.
One of the biggest challenges in the Good Food supply chain is getting products from farm and processor to market and consumer in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner. Suzanne Ma, co-founder of the Routific route optimization company, explains in this contributed column how software can help producers deliver their products more effectively.