The Maui Food Industry X-celerator “Pitch” event showcased the ingenuity of Maui’s newest food businesses.

KAHULUI, HI, (April 12, 2016) – On Thursday, March 23, three of Maui’s innovative food businesses walked away with the top awards at the Maui Food Industry X-celerator Program (MFIX) third “Pitch” event hosted at the UH Maui College. The event was an opportunity for participants to showcase their unique products and network with local investors, business industry leaders, and potential consumers. This highly anticipated event culminated after an eight-week long training that focused on Maui’s own chefs/restaurateurs.

The line-up of distinctive crafted products revealed at the Pitch event demonstrated the creativity and ingenuity of our Maui food entrepreneurs. For instance, top winner, Sun Republic Foods owner, Harold Boxley, who pitched “Ono Nanners,” a delicious Maui sun-dried healthy and natural snack, is an example of innovation in action as his product has only two ingredients- bananas and sunshine. Second place winner, Kihei’s Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse owner, Chef Chris Schobel pitched his famous and tasty BBQ sauces and rubs. Third place winner, “mauitempeco” Jamie Tourin, enthusiastically pitched a fresh and versatile adzuki bean tempeh that is high in protein, organic, gluten free, dairy free, and non-soy. These products had guest asking, “where can I buy these?”

“We are very grateful to the County of Maui’s Office of Economic Development (OED) who provided the award funding and whose continued support of this unique food “incubator” business program allows these food entrepreneurs to further grow their businesses,” said Chris Speere, Maui Food Innovation Center Site Coordinator and instructor for this course. Speere added, “During the MFIX course, participants connected with and were mentored by many of our Maui community businesses, which is invaluable as a start-up!” This year’s judges represented various sectors of the food industry: Annalee England, Team Lead for Whole Foods Market Maui, Kelly Degala, Corporate Chef for ABC Stores, and Kim Robello, Marketing Manager Minit Stop Hawaii. Winners were selected based on product innovation, presentation of concept, and business acumen.

The MFIX program is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund, Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation’s HI Growth Initiative, UH Maui College, and Whole Foods Market. MFIX provides participants with an overview of business planning and marketing, good manufacturing practices, industry trends, food industry requirements, while helping participants navigate some of the challenges that arise as a small business. In addition to Mr. Speere the MFIX course was taught by Greg Cabanting, Maui Branch Manager for Anheuser-Busch Sales of Hawaiʻi; in addition, we are fortunate to have program partners from the Small Business Development Center, County of Maui Business Resource Center, Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., Maui Economic Development Board, Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, Maui Wine, Maui Food Technology Center, and alumni of the MFIX program.

The upcoming MFIX will focus on Agri Businesses; those farmers who want to turn something they grow into a value-added product, which will start on Monday, July 10. For information or to register please visit: Edventure or http://maui.hawaii.edu/edventure

For more information about the Maui Food Innovation Center and its training programs, please visit: http://maui.hawaii.edu/foodinnovation

About Maui Food Industry X-celerator Program (MFIX) – Maui Food Industry X-celerator Program was established as a winner of the 2015 U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, one of 80 programs nationally. It provides support to area value-added food businesses and entrepreneurs in the form of training, community resources, and access to a certified commercial kitchen. Based at UH Maui College the MFIX is part of the Maui Food Innovation Center.

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