Lane County is a Growing Food and Beverage Hub

The Lane County Food and Beverage Manufacturing sector continues to grow. Since 2012 the number of firms in the area has increased by 38.6%, adding over 1000 new employees. New economic data shows that as of 2017 Lane County is home to 165 food and beverage manufacturing companies, employing more than 4000 people and bringing over $179 million dollars in wages to the area. RAIN supports multiple programs to help the burgeoning food and beverage industry in the greater Eugene area.

Food Business Unpacked

Each quarter Food Business Unpacked takes place, a showcase of stories from Lane County food and beverage leaders. February’s event focused on marketing innovations in industry. Ali AAsum, Communications Director at Ninkasi Brewing; Raychel Kolen, Marketing Manager at Mountain Rose Herbs; and Darcey Howard, Director of Marketing at Coconut Bliss shared how they leverage technology to build their brands. Beth Hjelm, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at the UO Lundquist College of Business moderated the panel. This event was a collaboration between Lane Food and Beverage Sector Strategies, Season to Taste, RAIN Eugene, Redefining Women in Tech, and Ninkasi Brewing.

Food Safety Modernization Act Round Table

A Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Round Table group launched in March, providing food safety managers a forum with which to collaborate. Eight different companies came together to discuss the concept of “continuous improvement” and what that looks like in terms of FSMA compliance. Miranda Bengtson brought examples of tools that SnoTemp uses to uncover root causes of problems that could compromise the safety, quality, or legality of their housed products. Documented use of these tools helps SnoTemp provide evidence of its robust collaborative approach to risk management and continuous improvement, as well as providing an archive for SnoTemp to reference in the future. Several participants showed an interest in discussing maintenance programs during the next quarterly meeting, proving that the FSMA Round Table group is already assisting collaboration within the industry.

Lane County food and beverage manufacturers employ nearly 4000 professionals and that number is growing every year. Lane Community College is collaborating with local industry to build out workforce training programs targeting the specific needs of the industry. Leadership from Yogi Tea, SnoTemp, Franz Bakery, Ninkasi, DanoneWave, Attune Foods, Singing Dog Vanilla, Queen’s Bounty, Market of Choice, Bagel Sphere, and Coconut Bliss have all participated in training program development.

Here at RAIN Eugene, we know that energy follows energy. As industry connections increase and the sector continues to grow, Lane County will continue to attract many more passionate food and beverage entrepreneurs.