Seed fund investment helps local gourmet food processor double sales in only one year

This week’s story comes to us from Bioenterprise.

By Lilian Schaer

Guelph, Ontario-based Rootham Gourmet Preserves has a long history of sourcing locally grown fruits and vegetables and partnering with local farms and businesses.

As the local food movement took hold, owner Will Rootham-Roberts started seeing increased interest in locally made and sourced small-batch gourmet condiments. He recognized an opportunity for the family-owned company to expand and offer Ontario farmers the possibility of creating and selling shelf-stable jams, jellies and sauces from their own locally grown produce.

But he needed help turning that vision into reality – help he received from Bioenterprise in the form of a grant from the Bioenterprise Seed Fund.

“Thanks to Bioenterprise, we were able to expand our processing capabilities and undertake a direct marketing campaign to promote our services to potential customers,” said Rootham-Roberts.

Bioenterprise introduced Rootham Gourmet to one of its Corporate Partners, MacGregor Marketing and Communications Inc., who guided them through a highly targeted direct mail campaign.

The success was beyond expectation – Rootham Gourmet gained 25-30 new clients in only two short months, expanded their production from three days weekly to five, increased the hours of their existing employees, and hired new staff.

“This funding was crucial and the immediate cash infusion allowed us to accelerate our growth very rapidly,” said Rootham-Roberts. “We hit our target of doubling our gross sales but did so in only one year instead of the projected two.”

Many farms, intrigued at the idea of being able to sell product year-round but who weren’t ready to take on a co-packing project in 2016, are now reaching out to Rootham-Roberts to start planning for the coming season.

The seed funding also helped the company dedicate some resources into product development with Longo’s, and they’ve since landed a significant contract with the retailer.

“Bioenterprise was excellent to work with, offering strong, personalized service. Their staff was always there to lend a hand and provide information and support,” Rootham-Roberts said, adding Bioenterprise was also able to flow funds rapidly to get work underway quickly.

The Bioenterprise Seed Fund helps support the growth and expansion of start-ups and small-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural technology sector within Southern Ontario.

Through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the Government of Canada is providing Bioenterprise with up to $4.84 million to deliver the Bioenterprise Seed Fund and Innovation Guelph’s Fuel Injection program.

The Bioenterprise Seed Fund provides innovative southern Ontario businesses in the sectors of agriculture, agri-food, as well as sustainable and environmental technology with up to $30,000 non-repayable seed financing (to be matched by the recipient company), coaching and mentorship. These resources will help companies to advance their market objectives, create jobs, attract investment, and foster economic development.

Bioenterprise Corporation is supported through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. Visit www.bioenterprise.ca.

More information about Rootham Gourmet Preserves is available at www.roothamsgourmet.com.

Photo source: AgInnovation Ontario