Business Profile: Pete Colman, Vermont Salumi
Leaders in Vermont’s food system have exciting things to say about artisanal cured meats: Rowan Jacobsen of the Vermont Public Radio Table believes that “Salumi (aka charcuterie or cured meats) is the obvious next frontier in Vermont’s food revolution,” and Allison Hooper of Vermont Butter and Cheese points out that:
"Production of American high quality cured meat is not unlike the artisan cheese movement of 25 years ago: a few regional pioneers who believe that if they make something delicious and sustainably produced, Americans will eat it. While salumi may be a relatively obscure and unknown to the American market today, we know that the American consumer did not eat goat cheese 25 years ago.”
Pete Colman plans that his new business, Vermont Salumi, will fill this niche. Vermont Salumi was launched in January of 2011, informed by Pete’s five years of making prosciutto as a hobby—a skill learned from time spent in Italy with his father’s family and friends. When he began looking into opening a business making only cured meats, though, he found that the regulatory requirements to sell dry-aged meat and the turn-around time of the product (it can take several months to a year or more for cured meats to be ready) were prohibitive. With the help of a business planner from the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, Pete was able to examine the costs and benefits of a cured meat business and create a plan for getting there. As a way to appeal to a broad audience and bridge the gap between the inception of the business and selling its first salumi, Pete began to make sausage. Sourcing only pasture-raised heritage pork from Vermont, as well as other Vermont products such as Hill Farmstead Brewery’s beer and wine from Lincoln Peak Winery, Vermont Salumi has come out with several fresh sausage varieties.
Completing a business plan allowed Pete to apply for an agricultural infrastructure grant from the Farm & Forest Viability Program. In order to be able to sell his cured meats, Vermont Salumi needed some serious equipment upgrades and a HACCP plan. An award of $9,250 helped Pete purchase the monitoring equipment necessary to meet regulatory requirements. New gear on the inside of his aging room constantly monitors humidity and temperature and can send updates directly to his computer. The grant also allowed Pete to purchase new production equipment—a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer—that have dramatically improved his efficiency. He says the grant award helps “plan for the project better, and more importantly, it is a serious catalyst” for taking on projects to move is business forward.