Local food products with a story appeal to consumers

Old family recipes can be turned into profitable, new products.

Many families have recipes for favorite foods that have been passed down for generations. These foods might be prepared on a regular basis or only on special occasions, like holidays. There is opportunity to commercialize these family favorites and market these products to consumers who are looking for homemade taste. Consumers also love a food product with a story behind it.

Kim Stricker grew up making Pierogi with her Polish grandmother, Helen Visnoski. Pierogi, a stuffed type of dumpling traditionally filled with a potato, cheese, or sauerkraut filling, can be enjoyed as an appetizer or main dish. Kim recognized the appeal of this simple, home-style food and formed her company, People’s Pierogi Collective, in Detroit, Mich. She began selling her Piergoi at the Eastern Market and is now expanding the business to other locations. Kim has also gone beyond the traditional fillings and is creating new flavors like bacon and egg and hummus. Plans are in place to ramp up production to make her delicious treats available in some Michigan grocery stores.

John Spillson is the third generation in his family making Greek rice pudding in the United States. His product carries on a family legacy that started in 1918 when his grandfather John Spillopoulos left Greece and came to the United States. His grandfather brought with him the treasured family recipe for rice pudding. Upon entering the country he changed his name to Spillson and went into the restaurant business and served the tasty dessert. Today, John Spillson is still making the same recipe using simply milk, eggs, rice, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Spillson’s Rice Pudding is available in the dairy case of southeastern Michigan grocery stores and is expanding across the Midwest.

The MSU Product Center can assist entrepreneurs who are interested in taking an old family recipe and creating a marketable food product. The Product Center can help with creating a business plan for this type of food product as well as offering services like scaling up the recipe for commercial production, nutritional labeling or sensory testing. Innovation counselors are located across Michigan to provide education and support to new entrepreneurs in these endeavors.

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