Creating Clean Food and Honest Roots With Genuine Local

Helping Small Food Producers Bring Their Product To Market

MEREDITH, NEW HAMPSHIRE-Welcome to Genuine Local, a “purpose-built” shared-use, specialty food production facility based in Southern New Hampshire and committed to providing local communities, small food producers, local businesses, and farmers with crop surplus, a venue for professional food production, nutritional information, cooking classes and more.


Article by Joe Milliken * Photos courtesy of Genuine Local

Launched in 2016 by Gavin and Mary Macdonald, and located at The Arts Collaborative in Meredith, New Hampshire, Genuine Local is a kitchen and food incubator space designed to assist local, individual food entrepreneurs in producing their recipes in bulk. After converting a warehouse space into the production facility, the Macdonald's have put together an impressive assortment of equipment and resources which includes technical support, training, regulatory assistance, collective ingredients, packing and packaging and access to outside networking and additional resources.

So, how did Gavin and Mary, who also founded their own specialty food company, The Discerning Palate, which produces Swineheart’s Signature Sauces, Our Local Table gourmet condiments and Old’s Cool Wild Game Sauces, go about commercially producing all these wonderful tastes and now... helping others do the same?

The Discerning Palate has evolved over a 12-year period, and it all started with a smoker that our kids gave to Gavin on Father's Day,” Mary Macdonald recently told SRO. “Everyone enjoyed the smoker and it eventually turned into family-based competition barbecue team called 'MacDaddy's Rollin' Smoke BBQ.'

"From there, the team evolved into a catering business and when we started using the sauces we had developed, our catering customers began asking where they could buy our sauces. So, then we thought, 'how hard can it be?' Fast-forward a dozen years and our parent company, The Discerning Palate, is now the umbrella for Swineheart’s Signature Sauces, Our Local Table, Old’s Cool Wild Game Sauces and Genuine Local."

In 2011, the Macdonald's started producing their sauces for wholesale distribution, using a shared production facility in Keene, New Hampshire. However, after a few years, and with the travel between facilities becoming increasingly more difficult, they began contemplating the idea of establishing their own food production facility. Then, in August of 2015, they received the news that the Keene facility they utilized, would be closing its' doors.

However, not only were the Macdonald's able to obtain some of the equipment from the closing Keene facility, but they were also able to work with their bank towards opening their own shared, food production facility. “We were told that the Keene facility would be closing in five weeks, so we were pushed to the starting line. We shifted gears, contacted Members First Credit Union and luckily, found a local building that was the right size and in the right location.

“We started construction on our purpose-built production facility in October 2015 and officially opened the doors in January 2016. We sourced equipment from all over New England, but were also lucky enough to purchase some essential equipment from the kitchen in Keene. We also designed the space to be flexible, having enough space to add equipment as the demand would dictate.”

Upon opening, Genuine Local served two purposes; to provide The Discerning Palate with a reliable production facility designed to produce their own signature sauces, and to also offer a licensed, shared-use facility to other small, specialty food producers. They offer a commercial-grade kitchen and cooking equipment suitable for a variety of specialty food production, as well as co-packing services, custom label production, and a multitude of business-development resources.

“We also offer aggregated buying of ingredients, along with a variety of labelling and packaging services. None of it is rocket science, but we were very fortunate to have many people share their hard-learned lessons with us... and we are now passing the knowledge along to others.”

Through a combination of services, education, tools and support, Genuine Local can assist small food producers by increasing their production, creating viability, marketability and brand recognition, and expanding their customer base. “As of now, we work with 10 self-producers, seven co-pack customers and a few private label customers,” Mary added.

“We also have customers who come and produce their product once a year, while others, including local farmers, we help turn their crop surplus into value-added, shelf stable products. We also have other individual customers looking to do holiday baking or to produce things for special events such as wedding favors or gifts.”

Also of great importance, Genuine Local clearly recognizes that today's consumers are people who really care about what ingredients are in the food they eat, and where those ingredients are sourced and raised. Ingredients now play such an important part in the overall health of everyone, and the Macdonald's are committed to food quality. In fact, it states right on their website; “Clean Food and Honest Roots.”

So how does one go about learning more about what Genuine Local can offer, and if you have the potential to produce a viable, commercial food product?

“We have found that meeting with prospective customers to talk about the services we offer and provide a tour is the best way to start,” Mary said. “Once you see the equipment and understand the range of options available to you, then the conversation about the product a customer is interested in making is much easier to put in context. Also, we always sign mutual, non-disclosure agreements with customers before we let them tell us anything specific about their product – we are very sensitive to the fact that most local food producers have a personal relationship with their product, whether it’s a recipe handed down through their family or one they created themselves.”

A few of the specific services Genuine Local can provide includes training on recipe scaling, instruction on the usage of their equipment, guidance on selecting product packaging, direction on the layout and compliance of labels, and the ability to help their customers find the right answers to questions that will arise as they proceed. Ultimately, giving Genuine Local a call and setting up a time to visit the facility is the first step in the journey, finding out what the potential might be for your own specialty food product.

“It is not uncommon for people who are used to small batch production in their home kitchen, to get nervous when they start talking about quantities in a recipe that has been scaled up for production,” Mary concluded. “The primary advantages to production in our facility is the consistency and efficiencies that you can create. Where it might take you five hours at home, to make one full batch of jam that yields 20 jars, you can make 24-30 cases (or 288-360 jars) in the same time-frame at Genuine Local.

“We like to tell people it’s like having a machine that creates time. Instead of spending 90 hours to make 360 jars of jam, you now have 85 hours to spend on sales and marketing! Pricing is also always critical – you can have a great product, but if it’s not priced right then you’re likely to struggle. You must be sure that you are capturing all your costs, including paying yourself!”

Genuine Local always welcomes new producers to their facility and have recently added Sweet Eat, a cheesecake company, to the kitchen. “We are also working on a USDA grant application to help us assist local food producers in gaining access to wholesale buyers. If funded, the grant will provide a website where food producers can list their products to be seen and purchased by local wholesale food buyers like restaurants, hospitals, schools and retail stores. Genuine Local will then aggregate the ordered items from producers and deliver them directly to the buyers. We are very excited to be working with other regional aggregates in preparing this application, and have hopes that we can connect a network of local food producers and wholesale buyers state-wide.”

Bottom line; Genuine Local is designed to be a bridge for local food producers to take the next step in their production and growth. Whether you come in the door with a concept or a finished product, Gavin and Mary can help get you to market and grow your business. They help local producers create quality products and increase productivity and efficiency, through providing access to the right tools for the job, and by reducing both packaging and labor costs.

"At its heart,” Mary concluded, “Genuine Local is a shared-use facility established to help local producers do more, make more, pay less and grow!” To learn more about Genuine Local or to schedule a visit, please go to the facility’s website at www.GenuineLocal.org or call 1-603-279-8600.