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Value-added products: good for business

Chocolates from Big Island-grown cacao, nut butter and oil from local macadamia nuts, jams and juices from lilikoi and guava, or growing — these are all value-added products that increase a producer’s profit margins without requiring more output from the same amount of land.

Value-added products can help farmers in Hawaii face the obstacles to growth.

“Finding sufficient capital is not only a challenge for beginning farmers, but also for those wishing to explore new product lines or scale up for new markets,” said Nichole Milne, agriculture business development specialist at the Kohala Center.

To assist farmers in developing value-added products, The Kohala Center is sponsoring business innovation expert Lou Cooperhouse in presenting “Food Business Basics: Getting Started and Finding Your Niche in the Specialty Foods Business,” workshops in Hilo, Honokaa, and Pahala, March 11-13.

The workshops are designed with a broad audience in mind – from farmers seeking to develop their raw materials into a value-added product to bring to market, to entrepreneurs and restaurateurs interested in diversifying their revenue streams with specialty food products, and for established producers who want to take their food businesses to the next level.

Anthony Marzi, executive director of the East Hawaii Community Development Corporation, said, “Many of the constituents we serve are anxious for this knowledge and training and Mr. Cooperhouse’s expertise has great potential to strengthen our local economy.”

“These workshops will help participants understand the specialty foods marketplace, distribution channels, and current and emerging food industry trends,” added Milne, “while also helping them define their target audiences, unique selling propositions, and underscoring the importance of business and strategic planning.”

Where and When

Hilo: Monday, March 11, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Hawaii TechWorks, 230 Kekuanaoa St.

Honokaa: Tuesday, March 12, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center, 45-539 Plumeria St.

Pahala: Wednesday, March 13, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Pahala Community Center, 96-1149 Kamani St.

Money Talk

Following Cooperhouse’s three-hour “Food Business Basics” workshops, Milne will present two, one-hour sessions focused on the financial resources available to Hawaii farmers, and strategies for marketing agricultural products.

“Loan and grant programs want to ensure that their funding is going to be used to help strengthen and support a strong local agricultural economy, and therefore it is important to focus on business management skills to help create a viable, long-term agricultural enterprise,” she said.

Registration is $35 per participant in advance, and includes access to all three workshops and lunch. Visit to reserve your space or call 443-2755, as there is limited seating.

In addition, in the afternoon, Cooperhouse will conduct 30-minute, one-on-one consulting sessions with pre-selected workshop participants for no additional charge. Check the website or call for availability. For more information, visit