UH-MC grows local food businesses with new course offerings

EdVenture at the University of Hawaii Maui College has developed a series of four noncredit Food Industry Fundamentals classes that will help participants develop differentiated, value-added and safe specialty food products, according to a news release.

The courses are designed for farmers interested in developing food products to increase profitability, businesses that want to expand their food offerings, new food businesses and employees wanting to increase their knowledge of the food industry.

“Nationwide we’re seeing a tremendous demand for locally-produced food products, but sometimes a farmer or food entrepreneur isn’t sure how to turn fresh fruit and vegetables into a safe, packaged (value-added) product,” said Lou Cooperhouse, a consultant to the Maui Food Innovation Center. “Food Industry Fundamentals will help participants understand the overall process better, but the classes will also offer information specific to Maui County. The goal is to support our local food producers so they can find new channels for their business, while providing more locally grown products to consumers.”

Over the last two years, Cooperhouse has met with businesses throughout Hawaii to listen to and collaboratively find solutions for the challenges faced by island farmers and food businesses. The classes progress from an overview of the market to ensuring that legal and safety requirements are met. Courses include Food Trends and Food Marketplace Overview; Food Technology and Product Development; Quality Assurance and Food Safety Principles; and Good Manufacturing Practices For Food Producers.

“While some aspects of launching a food business, such as food safety and process technologies, are the same no matter where you are, we’ve take a careful look at opportunities and needs that are specific to Maui,” says Cooperhouse.

“This is an excellent opportunity for capacity building by our farmers and ranchers to not only increase their bottom line but add to our level of self-sufficiency,” said Mae Nakahata of the Maui County Farm Bureau. “We hope this provides another mechanism to keep our multigeneration farm families in business and foster new farm operations on Maui.”

The series will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29 and 30 at the Kahului campus, and can be taken in order over a two-day period, which is recommended, or as a single course offering. Certificates of participation will be provided upon completion of each course.

Space is limited. Each seminar is $89, or $300 for the series. To register for the series or a class, call EdVenture at 984-3231.