Got the best recipe? You're gonna need more than that

How to get into Whole Foods: Upcoming  forum hopes to develop local producers and farmers into successful entrepreneurs

Brooklyn may be hogging the spotlight for its picklers and jam-makers, but, in Hawaii, we’ve never stopped making preserves and sauces: witness any Made in Hawaii fest, craft fairs around the island or the condiment aisle of the grocery store, all filled with auntie’s jams or an amateur cook’s chili pepper water. Even at Punahou Carnival, the malassadas may be legendary, but it’s the mango chutney that sells out within the first few hours of the fair.

But how to go from hobby to viable business? Whole Foods, one of Hawaii’s largest buyers of locally-made and grown products (it works with more than 280 local suppliers, about 75 of whom are farmers), is holding forums on Kauai, Maui and Oahu to help any aspiring and existing food producers answer that question.

Whole Foods has invited successful local producers such as OnoPops, Maui Brewing Co. and Kumu Farms to share their experience, as well as business consults and experts such as Lou Cooperhouse, UH Maui’s Food Innovation Center consultant, Steven Chiang, director of the UH Agribusiness Incubator Program and Ken Love of Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers to stoke ideas.

All of these entrepreneurs and experts will tell you that starting a successful business is more than a recipe or a harvest. They and Whole Foods buyers will be sharing advice on everything from:

– pricing and business models
– branding and marketing
– financing
– distribution
– local ingredient sourcing
– packaging
– food safety

And because Whole Foods is sponsoring the event, you'll get to pick the buyers’ brains on how to become a Whole Foods Market supplier, what retailers look for and even Whole Foods' local producer loan program (bet you didn’t know about that one).

The day-long summit and networking opportunity is free. The dates:

– Tuesday, August 6, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Aston Aloha Beach Hotel, Kapaa
– Thursday, August 8, 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.: UH Maui College, Kahului
– Saturday, August 10, 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.: Kapiolani Community College, Honolulu

Register at