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UMaine Today Magazine


Al Bushway Video Transcript
[-
Back to Pleasing Palates-]

Maine's artisanal food producers--I think another way of looking at that would be to call them the specialty/gourmet food producers in the state of Maine, and they'll vary from companies that might be a single individual up to several companies that may have 50, 60, or more employees. When we work with them, we go over what's required in terms of state regulations, and in some instances companies that are selling product across state lines; they have to also deal with federal regulations. So, we we will work with them and determine for them whether their product falls under food products that they are allowed to produce, particularly for the home-based food processors in a home-based kitchen. And that may be working with the Maine Dept. of Agriculture Food and Rural Resources with the regulations they have in place, or in some instances working with the Food and Drug Administration. On occasion, we work with the USDA, but we don't see a lot of those types of products.

I don't know what the total value in terms of dollars would be for [artisanal food producers], but if you look at them, a lot of them are women who have established their own businesses, and certainly they play an important role in the economy as a second income. In some instances these people become the primary income for the family.

I don't know what the total value of their input is into the economy, but it is certainly significant when you figure the products they're producing plus the raw ingredients they're purchasing, plus packaging material that they purchase, so they do have an impact.

When we look at them, we're looking at probably 400-600 individuals in the state at this time who are holding licenses. It's definitely a growing industry as we look at the number of people who contact us on a monthly basis. We probably do process and product reviews for 300-400 individuals each year. Some of these are repeat customers who have expanded their product line, so we're doing different products for them. But many of them are actually new entrepeneurs who are looking to get into the food processing business. So, we have some that go out of business each year and new ones coming in, but as a whole, I'd say that there's a growth in this segment of the industry.

 

UMaine Today Magazine
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