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Arts / Food and drink / Manufacturing

Learn from coworking: food makers should share distribution facility

Food makers run out of room to grown in Brooklyn once they reach a certain size. One Councilman proposes a plan to keep more food makers here.

Baked goods by the blogger "The Naked Beet," from the Food Bloggers Bake Sale at Brooklyn Flea Photo by roboppy on Flickr [Creative Commons]

Brooklyn’s fancy food makers are moving their production out of state once they reach a certain size, and that’s a big problem says one city councilman. So why not take the concept of coworking to a shared manufactured goods distribution plant?

Lots of food companies in Brooklyn are earning between $500,00 and $1 million per year, but many have told Councilman Stephen Levin that at a certain point they have to leave the borough, because there isn’t enough space to grow. That’s according to a new report issued by the Councilman from the 33rd District’s Office, Monday, Co-Packing for Brooklyn Manufacturers. 

70+ companies responded, most of which employed 10 or fewer employees. 66 percent of the respondents were Brooklyn companies, but companies outside the borough also expressed interest in getting food made here.

Takeaways:

  • The idea of the facility would be to take pressure off space for existing makers. In order to insure quality, the contract packager or “co-packer” would need to specialize in some kind of food. The report recommends either condiments and spices, baked goods or meats.
  • Very strong demand for a facility that could “pick and pack” online orders (82% of survey respondents)
  • While Brooklyn lost about 24,000 manufacturing jobs during this century’s first decade, its workers in food manufacturing held steady at about 6,000 workers.

That last fact points out that there is about 18,000 workers-worth of space (at least) out there in manufacturing facilities, the report claims. Of course, food manufacturing requires major retrofits and intense food safety regulations, but it does illustrate that the Councilman appears to be right: there is room for more food manufacturing in the borough. Mouth took the ecommerce side off a lot of these makers’ hands; who’s going to take the making?

Companies: New York City Economic Development Corporation
Series: Brooklyn

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