Arizona Tribune - "E.V. entrepreneurs find niche food market"

By Michelle Swafford

Small-business owners are breaking into the specialty-food market with their products at local gift shops and AJ's Fine Foods stores. But they say it requires persistence and a lot of groundwork to let people know about their goods.

Chandler resident Judy Egge (owner, Sunshine Specialty Foods) launched Relish This! sweet and tangy and sweet and spicy relishes in October. She was a food broker and handled food promotions for major grocery chains for 20 years, but then became jobless and needed income and opportunities.

Egge had canning experience from her hobby of making jellies and preserves each year, but the jelly market was saturated. About the same time Egge needed a job, she found herself without her favorite relish, which she had been importing for 10 years through her sister who lives in Toronto. The company refused to ship to Egge so she got out the fresh vegetables and started experimenting, which led to her product line.

She created a relish that could be used in sauces, salads, sandwiches and atop hamburgers and hot dogs and tried it out on her family and friends who raved about it. Then she met up with Scottsdale chef Marc Parker of Parker Foods, and he agreed to produce her relishes in his commercial kitchen. Egge also met with managers from AJ's Fine Foods and her product is now available in all eight Valley stores.

Relish This! can also be found in a handful of resort gift shops in Scottsdale, the Arizona Highways gift shop in Scottsdale, kitchen-specialty shops, the Exclusively Arizona store in Chandler Fashion Center and Hideaway restaurant in Cave Creek. The jars sell for between $5.79 and $6.99, and gift boxes and gift bags are also available.

Now, she's talking with other restaurants about cooking with her relishes and will soon begin distribution of her product in Chicago, which is where she's from.

"I relish my product, and I want people to like it as much as me," she said.