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Value-added Food

This project investigates new sustainable markets for New England seafood. Climate change challenges the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of New England's seafood industry. A warming Gulf of Maine compounds the complex puzzle of ecosystems, fish population dynamics, and catch limits for specific fisheries. Cascading effects on fishermen, seafood processors, markets, and restaurants provide a network of challenges that are difficult to disentangle.

Small dairy farms face particular challenges as costs of production often exceed the set federal price for fluid milk. However, consumers have demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium for local dairy products, providing emerging market opportunities for small dairy farms. In Massachusetts, a significant barrier for dairy farmers hoping to capture this premium is lack of access to scale-appropriate fluid milk processing facilities. This project engages stakeholders to identify operational feasibility, market potential, and barriers to access institutional markets.

There is an opportunity for farmers to meet growing demand for local foods and increase farm profitability by entering a new market for retail sales of frozen value-added products. In particular, farmers could capitalize on opportunities provided by recent investments in regional food processing facilities by freezing produce for retail sales in winter.

Many small and medium producers and processors are affected by the recent implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulation as the existing training does not address how to determine compliance and assumes that small and medium food processors (SMPs) begin training with a base level of food safety knowledge that many SMPs do not have. This project develops accessible, scale-appropriate, motivational mixed-media content to provide SMPs with the information they need to better understand how to implement Preventive Controls (PC) in their food businesses.

Producing shelf-stable acidified canned foods can help to add value to produce and introduce new markets, extend the agricultural season, and reduce waste. However, to successfully sell and distribute shelf-stable products, such as salsas, sauces, and/or acidified pickled products, processors must comply with the Code of Federal Regulations (21CFR114).

The development of shared-use processing spaces has created new opportunities for small and emerging food businesses to develop and create new products. However, this audience has historically had challenges navigating food safety regulation and compliance, and there is a strong lack of educational materials and training to support them.

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