Genuine Local: Their Story and Growth
Genuine Local defines itself as a shared-use kitchen, production facility, and business hub for local food makers. Mary and Gavin Macdonald, the owners of Genuine Local, never expected to work full-time in the culinary world; Mary had a former career in environmental regulation, and Gavin is a retired police officer and logistics manager. However, each of them have over ten years of experience in specialty foods. Their journey started after the facility they had been using to make their own brand of BBQ sauce, Swineheart’s Signature Sauces, shut down. Faced with the difficult challenge of finding a suitable new production space, they decided to start their own venture. In January 2016, Genuine Local opened its doors.
The backbone of Genuine Local’s philosophy is the Macdonald’s belief in “clean food with honest roots”. “We believe people should be able to make clean food without artificial ingredients,” Maryexplains. They offer a sweeping range of services including almost every aspect of production and business management. Their customers can receive help with nutrition labeling, insurance, pricing, sourcing ingredients, packaging, and creating value-added products. Producers can choose to either rent out and use the kitchen themselves, or have the Genuine Local team create their product. Mary adds, “We are always looking for ways to improve efficiency and options for our customers”
Since their beginnings, Genuine Local has grown exponentially. They serve about sixty customers from all over the New England region. The majority are less than an hour’s drive away, but they also have customers from other areas like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York City. Most of their business comes in the form of value-added products, where farmers bring in their crops to make a wide range of foods like soups, pestos, salsas, pickles, and sauces. This business model is working to reduce the amount of surplus crops that go to waste. Their value-added program has grown from two participating farms in 2016, to nine in 2017, and to eighteen in 2018. Perhaps most impressive is that from 2016 to 2017, Genuine Local saw a 474% increase in the total volume of produce they processed.
Visiting the facility reveals just how busy Genuine Local is today. The main production room is small, but packed full of gleaming stainless steel kettles, ovens, storage racks, and prep tables. Shelves are stuffed with boxes of glass jars for packaging, dry ingredients like spices and flours, and shelf-stable products ready to be shipped out. Everything is well organized and clearly-labeled. Their old office space is now home to their dry packaging operations. A few different products on the shelves include things like unique spice blends, interesting pickles, different types of jams, peri peri sauce, and even bottles of switchel (a traditional New England drink dating back to the 17th Century). These represent only a small number of the brands and products that Genuine Local has helped to make.
Recently, Genuine Local were chosen as finalists in the NH Businesses for Social Responsibility “Just One Thing” contest, an annual campaign to share stories of entrepreneurial success. The contest is intended to encourage more businesses to follow sustainable practices. Genuine Local’s commitment to farm-fresh, locally produced foods certainly meets this goal! Next, the Macdonalds will appear at the “Just One Thing” Sustainability Slam on November 1st at LaBelle Winery in Amherst, NH! They will have ninety seconds to present their story to the audience, who will vote for their favorite ideas. We’d like to wish them good luck, and hope that their story will inspire more foodpreneurs to expand their businesses and follow sustainable practices.