Olivia McClure, Russin, John, Sandoz, Gaye
News Release Distributed 06/08/15
BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter Food Incubator has received a three-year $2.5 million grant from the Louisiana Office of Community Development’s Disaster Recovery Unit. The grant will allow the incubator to ramp up production, serve more clients and hire more personnel.
The grant comes from federal Community Development Block Grant Funds provided to the state by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to stimulate economic development in areas of the state affected by hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008.
The Food Incubator, which currently serves 25 tenants, provides food entrepreneurs tools and expertise to test, produce, package and market foods. With the grant, the incubator will be able to purchase new, larger-capacity equipment, enabling it to eventually serve about 200 clients in some capacity and do pilot plant studies for larger companies.
“This grant will alleviate one of our main constraints,” said AgCenter Vice Chancellor John Russin. “Right now, we have done all of our work based on research-sized equipment, which is fairly small equipment.”
A number of the incubator’s tenants have grown significantly, and large quantities of their products are in demand. For example, it is inefficient to mix several small batches of a product in the incubator’s current 40-gallon kettle. Buying more equipment will enable the incubator to serve operations of different sizes while improving efficiency and increasing production, Russin said.
Some tenants are now selling their products — which range from salad dressings to snack foods — in regional locations of Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, Associated Grocers stores and Rouses Supermarkets.
“The continued success of the food companies is due to the LSU AgCenter’s resources, equipment, support staff and our network within the community,” said Food Incubator director Gaye Sandoz. “We have been approached by over 250 interested persons since the inception of the program in 2013.”
The Food Incubator is located on LSU’s Baton Rouge campus.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture