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Mission

The Arkansas Food Innovation Center (AFIC) provides assistance to small- and mid-size agricultural producers and entrepreneurs to facilitate the utilization of specialty crops for value-added products in local food systems.

 

Rationale:

Small to mid-sized farmers struggle to make a profit with traditional marketing of fresh crops. These producers often seek other markets to increase profitability and keep locally-grown food in the local food system. Specialty crop farms are mostly small and often rely on selling through seasonal retail outlets. Making processed value-added foods from these crops makes it possible to market them year-round. At the same time, it provides a way to use excess product, creating sustainable local food systems. AFIC provides facilities and equipment for use in developing these value-added products. It also makes available the technical expertise of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s Institute of Food Science and Engineering, the Department of Food Science, and other units within the Division of Agriculture and University of Arkansas community.

Background:

In 2013, the Arkansas Food Innovation Center (AFIC) was established on a trial basis to assist local entrepreneurs with value addition to specialty crops. To date, AFIC has assisted local farmers, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations with great success. These efforts have not only aided a number of agricultural producers in developing product lines and extending markets for their crops but have also prevented the waste of surplus crops by making them into forms that could be used within the community. At the same time, these activities have provided opportunities for AFIC staff to enhance their skills and capabilities. Some AFIC projects have included:

  • production of pesto from Arkansas-grown basil,
  • dehydration of Shiitake mushrooms grown on an Arkansas farm,
  • production of salsas from Arkansas grown tomatoes, onions and other ingredients,
  • processing of fermented cabbage to produce sauerkraut,
  • production of hummus,
  • production of apple sauce and apple butter from excess apples from a local orchard,
  • work with several non-profit organizations to preserve fresh-product donations for later use, and
  • work with the local public school system to utilize local produce for the production of spaghetti sauce for the schools.

 

© 2014 University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture
All rights reserved.
Last Date Modified 05/10/2017
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University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Arkansas Food Innovation Center
Institute of Food Science and Engineering
2650 N. Young Ave., Fayetteville, AR 72704 • USA
Phone (479) 575-4450 • Fax (479) 575-6936
afic@uark.edu