With food trucks, farmers markets and innovative “Jersey Fresh” products popping up daily, it’s no wonder New Jersey is known as a food industry hub.
According to Choose NJ, New Jersey boasts a thriving $105 billion food industry and an agriculture sector that’s growing every day. The Garden State is home to 1,900 food manufacturing companies employing about 31,000 people at last count. There are also thousands of food distribution centers, retailers, restaurants and farms. For more on the size and importance of food manufacturing to the New Jersey economy, download the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) report, “Food Manufacturing in New Jersey.”
At KRS, we work with many food startups, as well as established companies in food manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, brokerage, and transportation and logistics. We know how important it is to have the resources you need to grow your business, so we’ve put together this guide to the local food industry to help you.
Innovation and technical expertise for emerging and established food companies
Rutgers Food Industry Gateway combines the resources of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center and Rutgers’ Center for Advanced Food Technology to create a business incubation and economic development accelerator for the food and agricultural sectors.
The Gateway provides business and technical expertise in addition to serving as a guide to the wealth of knowledge within the many departments and institutes of Rutgers. Chief among these are:
- Rutgers Food Innovation Center
- New Jersey Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Health
- Department of Food Science
- Department of Nutritional Sciences
- Rutgers Food Policy Institute.
Financial incentives and workforce development programs
Choose: New Jersey’s mission is to encourage and nurture economic growth throughout New Jersey, with a focus on urban centers. They provide relocation and expansion services, property search/site visits, and economic development connections.
Under their Grow New Jersey Assistance Program, food companies may qualify for fully-transferable tax credits by creating as few as 25 full-time jobs (10 for new technology startups). The Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation, Logistics and Distribution Talent Networks partner with businesses to develop workforce training and connect companies with already trained employees to address their needs. Download Choose: New Jersey’s food industry brochure to learn more.
New Jersey Economic Development Association (EDA) works in partnership with Choose NJ and the New Jersey Business Action Center, along with the Office of the Secretary of the Higher Education, to collaborate under the umbrella of the New Jersey Partnership for Action (PFA). The EDA’s role in attracting and retaining businesses is to administer financial resources that help companies bridge financing gaps and encourage companies to choose New Jersey over a competing location by making a project more financially viable.
Best practices for food manufacturers and suppliers
The New Jersey Food Processors Association (NJFPA) is an organization of manufacturers and suppliers of food and agricultural products joined together to promote best practices, share information and expand the food industry of New Jersey and the surrounding region.
NJFPA provides its members with access to the networking events and the resources necessary to strengthen their companies. The NJFPA holds an Annual Conference, usually in January, which provides sessions on technical innovations, sales and marketing tips, consumer trends, distribution solutions, new product and package development, and food safety issues.
New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP) is a not-for-profit company that works with New Jersey’s small to mid-sized manufacturers to help them become more efficient, profitable and globally competitive. NJMEP’s Made in New Jersey program showcases the state’s products and the companies that are manufacturing them. A key component of this program is the online directory listing NJ’s manufacturers and the products they create. Register to be a part of Made in New Jersey.
Food conferences and trade shows
Many food conferences and trade shows occur in the New Jersey and New York area. We’ve been to these four and they are worth checking out:
FOODBIZ, presented by NJBIZ, is a day of education and networking designed to benefit New Jersey business owners and operators in the food and beverage industries. The event brings together buyers and sellers in this business-to-business environment aimed to stimulate revenue opportunities, educate and inspire.
The World of Latino Cuisine Food and Beverage Trade Show, held at the Meadowlands Expo Center, includes the participation of domestic food manufacturers, producers, and distributors. Importers from the Caribbean and many Latin American countries also participate as exhibitors. Matchmaking opportunities are offered off-site and at the event, as ninety-five percent of the largest Latino food and beverage distributors in the Northeastern United States are located within a 25 miles radius of the Meadowlands Expo Center.
The New York Produce Show and Conference is held each year at the Javits Center, NYC, and is presented by the Eastern Produce Council and Produce Business magazine. The 3-day event includes networking opportunities and a tradeshow of over 400 companies representing local retailers, wholesalers, foodservice distributors, urban farmers and unique eateries.
The Fancy Food Show, presented by the Specialty Food Association, showcases over 2,500 exhibitors with the latest in specialty food and beverages from across the U.S. and 55 countries. It is held annually at the Javits Center.