McConnon quoted in PPH piece about growth of specialty food, beverage businesses

James C. McConnon Jr. talked with the Portland Press Herald for its story about the rising number of specialty food and beverage businesses in the state. McConnon, a Cooperative Extension business and economics specialist and economics professor at the University of Maine, said according to federal census data, the number of food and beverage manufacturing companies in Maine grew 35% from 2007 to 2017. Over that same 10-year period, the number of all Maine businesses, of all kinds, dropped 2%.  The average annual growth of the food and beverage business sector — which includes startups, value-added products from farms, and craft breweries, wineries and distilleries — has been 3.5% per year, McConnon said. In the past 15 years, McConnon, UMaine Cooperative Extension food science specialist Beth Calder and colleagues have developed a Recipe to Market workshop to help budding food entrepreneurs get started. The most popular recent business ideas have been fermented foods, hot sauces and dressings. “We’re starting to see plant-based foods,” McConnon added. “Nationally, there’s been a consumer-driven trend looking at plant-based products … We’ve seen a little of that, but I expect we’ll see a lot more of it.”