Food Entrepreneurs: Change is Here

Nutrition label

Photo (CC) by USDA, on Flickr

If you are a food entrepreneur, or foodpreneur as sometimes reference, there has been a change in your world. The rules governing what goes on your nutritional label are changing.

Consumers are more and more using this label. The changes being made will provide them with more useful information.

The Oklahoma State University Food and Agricultural Products Center has posted an article regarding these changes. They also have a short (1 minute) highlight video.

You can also find information on these changes from the USDA Food and Drug Administration here.

Keep your business on the right side of these regulatory changes.

Field to Fork: Growing, Processing and Selling Local Food Safely

Farm workerThere are two big food movements currently going on in this country.

The first, the one we all have heard of, is that of local foods. Every state has some sort of activity going on. More and more people are enjoying getting fresh food from local producers. It’s great to get food ripened in the great outdoors and brought to us at its peak of freshness and taste.

The second movement we also have heard much about, although not lately. That issue is food safety. It arises most often when something happens somewhere in the process and people suffer. No one wants that to happen. Regulations have been passed and laws made but sometimes such events still occur.

It is important for anyone in the system, from growers through distributors and merchants, to do everything possible to keep our food supply safe. And that responsibility continues right on to the consumer to do his or her part.

With those thoughts in mind, Field to Fork, an effort of Julie Garden-Robinson of North Dakota State University Extension, was development of information on building a successful local foods business along with making sure the products stay safe throughout the process.

Check out the videos offering a variety of tips, including those for food safety.

And good luck.


Small Business Cyber Security Needs Continue

data breach 2A recent article by HuffPost Business examined how cyber security for small business continues. A recent hack at LinkedIn certainly demonstrates that point.

The majority of small businesses are storing email addresses, billing addresses and passwords of their clients. At the same time, they are doing little to safeguard their own passwords or creating passwords that are difficult to break and then changing them on a regular basis.

In 2015, Mary Peabody joined us here at Power of Business to do two sessions on Cyber Security.

Mary has shared a recorded webinar on payment fraud done by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Also, she shared the slides from another session done by the SBA and the Federal Reserve Bank.

With this information, you may realize it is time to develop a cyber security plan for your small business.  The Federal Communication Commission has developed two tools to help you make this a reality, a planning guide and a tip sheet.

Now is a great time to protect your business. We hope these tools help.

Cyber Security and Your Small Business – Part 2

Mary Peabody, Univ of Vermont, and Steve Hancock, Cornell, offer more tips on how small businesses can keep their online data secure. 

In this episode, Mary and Steve discuss how to protect your customers. Businesses need to build trust with clients. It is that trust which then allows the client to provide his or her credit card and personal information when you ask.

There are four strategies a small business owner can use to build such trust:

  1. Have and follow a privacy policy
  2. Know the data you are collecting. What is it? How will you use it? How are you storing it? Who has access?
  3. Keep what you need and delete what you don’t.
  4. Protect the information.

It is not uncommon to hear business owners express concern about the perceived cost of keeping data secure. That cost is made up of two things, software and time.

The software can often be obtained for free. Companies are increasingly will to share it as data security is in everyone’s interest.

As Mary identifies, there will be time involved. Yet the time spent upfront will be much less than what would be spent should a data breach occur. And it is not only the issue of fixing the data breach but the time and energy you will spend in re-establishing trust with your clients. Recovery is much more expensive than time up front.

Another thing business owners can do is to help their customers stay safe when online. A tip sheet was provided that business owners might share with their customers as a place to start.

As a business owner, you want your customers to feel comfortable in engaging with you and your website. Take the time and make the effort to ensure your work does not disappear because of an online security lapse.

Mobile Devices and Safety/Security: It’s Crucial

We are a mobile world. Our lives are filed with mobile devices. They are so easy to carry around with us.

The ease of carrying the devices with you makes it just as easy for someone else to carry them away.

But there are many ways that you can protect your device and your data as well as your customer information.

Connie Hancock, University of Nebraska Extension Educator, guides you through some basic steps to keep your data and your devices secure. Take a couple of minutes to watch the video and download the quick-read tips.

Security is crucial. Take action today.


Food Safety at Farmers’ Markets

Farmers' Market

Photo by USDA

Food safety is on the radar screen for today’s consumer. The popular press regularly brings stories about issues of potential concern.

As a local food producer, farmers and other value-added entities are very aware of the need to provide a safe food product. One of the marketing points that many of you use relates to the idea of knowing your local producer and how that influences the feelings of food safety.

So how can you best ensure that the food you are providing continues to be safe for your customers? It isn’t extremely hard. It just requires understanding your production and distribution processes and then looking for where potential gaps occur where food safety issues might arise.

To help you with that Iowa State has put a free course online to help you evaluate your current systems and to put new tasks in place that will minimize the holes you find. The University of Missouri Extension system brought my attention to this great tool. I hope you find is useful.