West Sacramento, Calif.-based regional grocery chain Raley's is throwing its support behind a public-private partnership designed to support food and agriculture entrepreneurs.
The initiative, Lab@AgStart, will now house the Raley's Food Lab, a certified food facility in Woodland, Calif., where established as well as aspiring food entrepreneurs can trial new products, ingredients and recipes. The facility will also serve as a testing ground for small-volume production. Raley's, in addition to its financial sponsorship of the food lab, will provide mentorship to incubator participants to help them prepare to scale their businesses and sell at retail, according to an AgStart news release. Raley's is a 2021 Winsight Grocery Business Remarkable Independents honoree.
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"The Raley’s Food Lab will provide an ideal location for food entrepreneurs to experiment and test new foods and food ingredients in a region renowned for its vibrant agriculture and food innovation ecosystem," the release stated.
Raley's owner Michael Teel said in the release that the grocer is excited to support food and agriculture innovators in a region known for its focus on the future of food production. The Raley's Food Lab, he said, "will support food entrepreneurs, who will lead the way to a better food system."
The Lab@AgStart, slated to open April 1, will combine the Raley's Food Lab, outfitted with kitchen and production equipment, with a comprehensive wet-lab facility (sponsored by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation) where innovators can run nutrient assessments on their creations. The dual-lab startup incubator is the first of its kind in California, according to AgStart.
Further funding for the $1.5 million Lab@AgStart is being provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the county of Yolo and the city of Woodland.