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NPK Wild Foods
Due to pandemic market disruptions in 2020, Dafne Romero experienced a significant decline in sales because of retail and farmers’ market restrictions, plus human resource reduction. She enrolled her company, North Pacific Kelp Wild Foods (NPK Wild Foods), into the funded Food Business Refresh Program (Refresh) to formulate a pivot plan. Along with over 60 other B.C. food processors, she was appreciative of the personalized support she received to develop a strategy to ensure her Haida Gwaii kelp business could be sustainable in future market challenges.
To help businesses like Dafne’s who were impacted by COVID-19, the Small Scale Food Processor Association (SSFPA) launched the Refresh initiative in late 2020 with the financial support of Western Economic Diversification and the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. Farm Food Drink, was called on to develop, market, and facilitate the program.
Dafne’s intention when entering the program was to create a pivot plan to sell a frozen kelp vegan lasagna. While working with her Refresh business coach she became increasingly aware that she would need to address packaging design and distribution challenges associated with frozen product delivery.
Refresh Phase Two
The second phase of the Refresh program matched up Expert Advisors with each business owner, dependent on their plan requirements. In Dafne’s case, she was paired with Mehrnaz Roudsari, a Food Product Development Expert, who immediately saw the distribution challenge.
Mehrnaz was able to help troubleshoot Dafne’s pivot idea and costing for a more feasible plan. Instead of a frozen product, it was agreed to move to a freeze-dried ready-to-eat kelp vegan lasagna in a take-out compostable and vegan container.
Besides addressing a growing market and extending the shelf life of her products, Dafne’s plan allows for significant growth, with large-scale recipes, equipment purchase to increase production, and hiring a company to brand and expand her exposure.
“The Refresh Program allowed me to assess, plan and implement various aspects of my business,” explains Dafne Romero. “It has set me up to be more resilient and sustainable in times of crisis.”
The Refresh Program is a different type of support program in that it provides personalized coaching and funded implementation support. After receiving guidance and direction from a business coach to create their pivot plan, participants were matched with an Expert Advisor purposefully selected for their food industry knowledge and experience.
The Advisor’s role is to provide expertise to help participants further define, troubleshoot, prioritize and/or cost out their Refresh Plan and create their Refresh Funding Proposal for implementation help. In other words, their role is to help them develop a realistic pivot plan.
In Dafne’s case, her Expert Advisor, Mehrnaz, provided a breakthrough. Instead of wasting time, money, and effort on developing a product that would be challenging to distribute (frozen), Dafne received invaluable advice to refine her pivot plan for a more sustainable option (freeze-dried).
“Product development has so many aspects to it,” explains Mehrnaz Roudsari. “What a great opportunity for these businesses to receive specific advice for their unique plans.”
Ask an Expert Series
There are many support measures in the Refresh program. However, once businesses started digging into their pivot plans, it soon became apparent that many of them needed access to more than one Expert Advisor. Many participants had similar questions, or didn’t know what they didn’t know, so an Ask the Expert series was created.
Dafne from NPK Wild Foods took advantage of these group sessions to further hone her new plan. The Ask the Expert series included six discussion topics that benefited multiple participants:
- Sales & Distribution
- Grant Writing & Communicating Your Vision
- Pricing & Sales Strategies
- Food Branding & Labelling
- Food Business Marketing: Grow Your Brand, 3-part MasterCourse offered by Farm Food Drink
Dafne's Next Steps
In the third phase of the Refresh Program, funding is offered to help participants to actually implement the plan they’ve developed over the past couple of months.
Through the Refresh implementation phase, Dafne has applied for and been accepted for the federal and provincial government funding. She will use her $4,000 towards the purchase of new equipment, and labels design and printing for her new freeze-dried ready-to-eat kelp vegan lasagna.
It will be exciting to see the results of Dafne’s Refresh pivot plan.
For more information about Dafne and NPK Wild Foods visit their website.
If you are a small food processor interested in the Food Business Refresh Program, visit the website to get on the wait list.