The City of New York and Goldman Sachs have established a $10M loan pool to help fund recently resurgent small-scale food manufacturers within the city. The key statistic I shall try not to forget: despite the recession, the City’s food-making industry increased in size by 6% last year. Good news for the City, and a potential sourcing opportunity for Long Island farmers.
I spent this past Sunday at the New Amsterdam Market grazing on some stuff that would be perfect for this funding.The Schoolhouse Kitchen mustard I tried was about as distinctive a condiment as I have ever tasted. The roasted beets from Brooklyn’s own Sour Puss Pickles were brashly flavorful. It was gratifying to eat the entrepreneurship spoke-of in the NYT article.
Though they were cost-competitive, these products were not necessarily inexpensive. Everything I bought was a few bucks more than its supermarket corollary, but I found their taste and uniqueness made them all very compelling, worthwhile purchases.
Apparently I am not the only one who feels that way. What impressed me most of all was that some of the vendors already have a strong retail presence with institutional buyers like Whole Foods. Achieving that kind of steady order flow is an impressive accomplishment. Despite that success, many of the vendors continue to direct-market their goods to consumers like me at places like the New Amsterdam. It’s ambitious, and its really good business. The vendor prices are the same as those in Big Retail, but at the market the producer captures a much greater share of the processing value. Small wonder the smart money is being sent to niche-market producers like the ones at New Amsterdam.