The Northland College Hulings Rice Food Center has been awarded $49,300 from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to work on product development for hazelnuts.
The Food Center has been collaborating for years on hazelnuts as a farming solution to climate change. Last year, business students tackled hazelnut product development and marketing as part of a classroom project.
“This grant allows us to expand our past work with American Hazelnut Company and hone in on exciting products to help bolster Wisconsin hazelnut production,” said Danny Simpson, assistant manager at the Food Center.
The Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant is intended to provide consumers access to more Wisconsin-grown food products. The Food Center was one of nine projects selected from thirty-three funding requests.
“Things are going to be nutty around here for a while,” Simpson said.
The Food Center will be working for the next two years with the American Hazelnut Company in Gays Mills, Wisconsin, to develop value-added hazelnut products that allow for greater revenue and scale along the Wisconsin hazelnut economy supply chain.
“We’ll be working on spreadable hazelnut butter, a milk beverage, and vegan cookie dough as potential products,” Simpson said. “This is an exciting opportunity to get creative and develop some fun products.”
In addition to product development, recipe testing, and manufacturing protocols the Food Center will work with Northland College’s business management program to develop branding and packaging recommendations, product reports, and marketing plans.
The Food Center plans to continue working with the Entrepreneurship course. Five teams of students created original recipes—hazelnut milk, vegan ice cream, protein energy balls, vegan and gluten-free cookie dough, and a low-sugar chocolate hazelnut spread.
The grant program requires that value-added products contain at least fifty percent local ingredients by weight or volume, aligning with the Northland College’s commitment to supporting the local foods community.