Kitchen incubators offer support services for new food businesses

Kitchen incubators focus on new food business success by offering licensing preparation, low cost suppliers and process analysis to streamline production.

A critical question that every new food business faces is where they will produce their new food product. Although licensed commercial kitchens are plentiful and offer a variety of reasonable prices, more and more entrepreneurs are selecting kitchen incubators to begin their production.

The price of kitchen space use is only part of the equation when shopping for a production location. The amount of space within the kitchen, its availability during the week, the schedule for use of equipment and the entrepreneurial support that the location provides are all critical factors to consider when choosing a location.

“Incubators, unlike other commercial kitchens for rent, are invested in the entrepreneur’s success,” said Marcy Bishop Kates, owner and operator of Incu-Bake in Holt, Mich. Because of this, incubators offer a variety of support services in addition to their space and equipment. State regulations and inspection is one area that kitchen incubator operators can assist businesses with. “We have a good relationship with our Michigan Department of Agriculture inspector, and work to assist clients in preparing for their licensing visit at the incubator.”

Ingredient sourcing is another area of assistance that kitchen incubators can provide. “We work with businesses to lower their supply costs by identifying new sources, connecting clients for group orders, and providing local farmer connections for fresh produce,” Kates noted. Those using incubators have access to storage space for the business including shelf, refrigerator or freezer space for ingredients and finished products.

Another valuable service that Incu-Bake offers businesses is procedural process analysis. “We help producers look for ways to streamline their processes so they can reduce their time of production and therefore lower their cost of production,” said Kates.

The MSU Product Center, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, provides business counseling for product development and marketing strategies that will help Michigan entrepreneurs commercialize high-value, consumer–responsive food products. For more information, visit the MSU Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.

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