2017 Food Entrepreneur Conference

You might have the best recipe for barbecue sauce or salad dressing, or the best organic lettuce and tomatoes, but how do you go about selling your product? Get answers at the fifth annual Food Entrepreneur Conference on April 26 and 27 in Auburn. Breakout sessions on the second day allow participants to talk one-on-one with the experts.

Wednesday and Thursday, April 26-27

Center for Advanced Science, Innovation & Commerce
559 Devall Dr., Auburn, Alabama 36849

Registration: $150 before April 19, $200 after April 19


  • Regulations: What state and federal regulations cover your business?
  • Financing: How do you finance your business?
  • Food testing: What kind of testing is available from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System?
  • Food labels: What information must be included on your label?
  • Food safety: A recall can kill a small business, so you want to know all about this topic.
  • Alabama’s Cottage Food Law: Alabama’s Cottage Food Law allows the sale of certain products from your home, eliminating the cost of a commercial kitchen and the need to sell through a retail outlet. What foods qualify?
  • Commercial kitchens: Who needs a commercial kitchen, and how do you find one?
  • Co-packing: What is a co-packer, who needs a co-packer, and where can you find one?
  • USDA Meat products: Requirements for producing meat products that meet USDA regulations.
  • Writing a business plan: What should you business plan include?
  • Marketing: How do you reach potential customers?
  • Food brokers and distributors: What is the difference, and how can they help you?
  • How to sell to a “big box” store: You can’t just walk in the front door and say, “Buy my product!”
  • Food trucks: What’s required to be part of Food Traxx, the Auburn University food truck program?
  • Selling Alabama fish and seafood: What opportunities are out there?
  • Maximizing opportunities for women and minorities: What help is out there?


  • Trey Sims is the co-founder of Wickles Pickles, a line of “wickedly delicious” pickles, relish, and and peppers that are now sold in all 50 states and more than 9,000 grocery stores. Sims is from Alabama and began manufacturing Wickles Pickles alongside his co-founders (brother, Will, and friend Allen Anderson) in Dadeville.
  • Tiffany Denson is a food entrepreneur, creator of T.Lish all natural vinaigrettes and marinades sold at Publix, Harris Teeters, Fresh Markets and Whole Foods. She’s been there, done that and she’s willing to talk about her mistakes and what she’s learned.
  • Jay Short is the owner of Jala Jala Foods. His jalapeño products – jellies, sauces, salsa and chili mix – are on 13 store shelves throughout Alabama and Tennessee, including six Whole Foods locations.
  • Matthew Wilson is with the SBA’s Small Business Development Center and is an expert on the business aspects of running a food-based business.
  • Ken and Julie Ledbetter are the owners of Fire Truck Bar B Que, a uniquely refurbished 1985 fire truck that travels around offering “not just food but presentation.” The barbecue catering truck is capable of serving 500 to 3,000 people per day a variety of beverages, snacks, sandwiches, and dinner plates.
  • Jimmy Wright is owner of Wright’s Market in Opelika and member of the National Grocers Association board of directors. Wright’s Market has been named one of the top 100 small businesses in America and was recognized as one of the U.S. Chamber’s Dream Big Blue Ribbon Small Business Award winners.
  • Jean Weese is head of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s (ACES) food safety and quality team and the brains behind the Food Entrepreneur Conference.
  • Patti West is a member of the ACES food safety and quality team and responsible for food testing and labeling.
  • Christy Bratcher is an Auburn University meat scientist and an expert on USDA rules and regulations.
  • Terry Hanson is with the Fisheries Business Institute and and expert on Alabama aquaculture.

Sponsored by: