Founder of Good to Grow spills the beans on what it takes to build a food business in B.C.

In collaboration with BC Food & Beverage, Good to Grow is back with its fourth event celebrating local food brands.

Good to Grow trade show 2021

Credit: Good to Grow. Last year’s From The Ground Up Trade Show included (from left) Agne Jagelaviciute and Simon Durand of local pasta brand Smart N Local, shown with Andrea Gray-Grant, founder of the event and Good to Grow

In collaboration with BC Food & Beverage, Good to Grow is back with its fourth event celebrating local brands

For anyone associated with the food business, it’s that time of year again.

Business coaching coalition Good to Grow’s annual signature event, the From the Ground Up Trade Show (FTGUTS), returns to Vancouver on May 26. The show, a collaboration with BC Food & Beverage, gives buyers, distributors, chefs, media and industry supporters a chance to meet B.C.’s new and emerging food and beverage brands. 

Compared to 37 exhibitors last year, the fourth edition of FTGUTS, which takes place at the PNE Forum, has received 55 applicants so far. The panel of judges fielding pitches for its awards component includes Diana Chan, writer and creator at; Meeru Dhalwala, chef and co-owner of Vij’s Restaurant; BCBusiness 30 Under 30 winner Eve Laird, founder of Eve’s Crackers; and Hong Sy, research analyst with BCIT’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group.

There’s a lot of trade shows out there, but ours focuses only on B.C.-made, packed or grown products,” says Andrea Gray-Grant, founder of Good to Grow, online delivery company and the trade show. “We’re really looking at focusing on local and multiple market channels.”

READ MORE: What will it take for B.C. to grow more of its own food?

To help small F&B brands develop, North Vancouver–based Good to Grow’s team of industry teachers, coaches and mentors have hosted workshops, learning cohorts and events since 2011. FTGUTS is a great way to build your brand, Gray-Grant maintains, because it functions as a community networking event.

For instance, a vegan cookie maker, originally from South America, who attended the show last year won a silver award as well as listings with BCIT and Langara College. “She got into a market channel that’s very tough to get into, and she got into it at a stage that was, like, a head scratcher; usually that market channel is really, really locked down,” Gray-Grant says. “She’s a great example of a local brand that’s new, that’s emerging and made those connections, and now it’s happening.”

With 28 years of industry experience, including a failed business, Gray-Grant decided to go hyper-local so she could advise new companies before they expand outside the province. FTGUTS has always been about that, but increasingly, it’s also a way for the founder to showcase how diverse the local food industry is. “We want to see a true representation of B.C.,” Gray-Grant says. “It is shocking how many people from different cultures and different places are going to attend the trade show this year. I’m really excited about that.”