The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, in response to an apparent lack of capacity or access to affordable, right sized manufacturing options in our state for growing, ready‐to‐scale small food and beverage businesses, requests proposals to assess the current state of Minnesota food and beverage manufacturing capacity/capability and identify gaps, opportunities, and strategies in supporting “ready‐to‐scale” food and beverage businesses. Failure to address these infrastructure needs places Minnesota at risk of losing not only the economic benefit these businesses provide today (jobs, revenue, capital, and agricultural product utilization), but also minimizes the economic potential of attracting new food and beverage businesses to the state. Working together with several stakeholders (the Minnesota Department of Economic and Employment Development (DEED), the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), and other knowledgeable individuals/agencies), AURI aims to identify strategies to encourage development of a manufacturing infrastructure to support these food and beverage businesses.

This project should focus on addressing the following four questions:

  1. What is the current problem and associated opportunity (define the problem/universe)? Contractor should estimate how many small Minnesota food and beverage manufacturers (manufacturers with annual sales in the range of estimates $20,000 ‐ $3 million) are utilizing contract manufacturing in other states and summarize why Minnesota food and beverage businesses are looking outside the state for these services. Contractor should also describe and quantify the economic impact that results ‐ for the state ‐ when a food and beverage company chooses to manufacture in another state, including describing specific economic benefits such as employment/jobs and downstream impacts, such as local ingredient purchasing).
  2. What manufacturing capacity, and “scale‐able manufacturing space for lease” assets, are currently accessible, capable, and interested‐in servicing “ready‐to‐scale” small food and beverage businesses in Minnesota? Contractor should catalogue and characterize specific facilities, capabilities and capacity currently available in Minnesota in those categories.
  3. Is there underutilized manufacturing capacity in Minnesota? What manufacturing infrastructure (capability, capacity, and location) is needed to support the needs of Minnesota’s growing food and beverage innovation ecosystem? Contractor should consider and investigate whether there other manufacturing and potential food facility lease opportunities that exist in Minnesota, if the manufacturing or leasing business owner were willing to expand his/her service model, became aware of opportunities to service small scaling food companies, or add capacity in another way? This research should result in recommendations and connections that can be used by stakeholders to encourage future manufacturing capacity/support for this segment of small food and beverage makers.
  4. Recommendations ‐ What are the steps that the state and other industry supporters can take to expand local processing opportunities for scaling Minnesota food and beverage companies? Contractor should make specific recommendations for specific programming, investment, policy, or other actions that could make an
    impact.

This assessment may also consider development of tools to aid in connecting food and beverage business owners with appropriate manufacturing facilities. Inclusion of manufacturing location maps, capability guides, direct quotes from stakeholders and business owners, and other materials that will support further action in subsequent project Phases are preferred.

To download the full Request for Proposals, click here. Please direct any questions about the request to Ashley Harguth at aharguth@auri.org.