The Rutgers Center for Advanced Food Technology (CAFT) has established an outstanding reputation for helping entrepreneurs bring their innovative food product concepts to commercial success. CAFT's Food Development and Manufacturing Center, a food business incubation facility located in Piscataway, New Jersey, has been helping entrepreneurs to launch new food products and or expand their existing food business. Over the course of its 10 years of operation, the center has helped more than 500 entrepreneurs.
A full time staff of six at the incubation facility focuses on the technology needs of food entrepreneurs by providing Food and Drug Administration and USDA-approved space, equipment and technical expertise in food technology and manufacturing. In addition, the center's network of business consultants offers sales, distribution and marketing assistance. "Our center engages in food incubation to fulfill our central mission of technology transfer, economic development and job creation," says William Franke, associate director of CAFT. "The start-up companies that we house in our facility and help to get off the ground or help to expand are the backbone of economic growth in New Jersey."
Mary Ann Rollano's iced tea was always a hit with family and friends, but it was a long way from her kitchen brew to a product that would sit on the shelf and sell in the mass market. She turned to CAFT whose food incubation center developed the process for brewing and bottling her iced tea for a commercial market without sacrificing its homemade taste. “Working with Rutgers proved to be a tremendous benefit in helping me successfully take my kitchen recipe to the marketplace," says Rollano, owner of Mary Anna's Tea. “The Food Innovation Center's workshops provided the knowledge base I needed while the Center for Advanced Food Technology's manufacturing facility produced a small product run."
As Mary Ann tells it, her goal was to take her iced tea recipe, just as it was made at home with all natural ingredients and real brewed tea, and turn it into a ready-to-drink shelf stable product. “I found everyone at Rutgers both knowledgeable and experienced...they helped me accomplish my goal and I am very pleased with the result. The proof of product quality is in the sales and my iced tea is selling very well in local specialty food stores and natural food markets." Mary Ann told her story of her journey from home-brewing iced tea to manufacturing a product for a mass market to New Jersey Monthly.
The 31,000 sq. ft. Food Development and Manufacturing Center is an ideal place to start and grow a new business. It is unique because it has the capability to manufacture products as well as the capacity to offer product development services, under one roof. The center has helped scores of resident clients to establish food businesses and shepherd them to success, and help them to secure new accommodations for their growing product lines and expanded business needs.
The staff provides services for product development and process development with special emphasis on thermal processing. Before any new food business is properly licensed to operate, it must meet state and federal safety and health standards. The center offers its clients Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan development, third party audit inspection assistance, as well as expertise in quality control, nutritional labeling and regulatory compliance.
The Piscataway, New Jersey facility has been home to a number of small food and ingredient companies that manufacture their products in the center's state of the art space. Meet the next generation of start-up companies that are currently incubated at the center:
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