American Premium Foods
The combination of tasty new products and eager new markets has led to substantial growth for exporter American Premium Foods.
Sam Absy, owner of the Omaha-based business and a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate, says reports and guidance from the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) export consultant Josh Nichol-Caddy have been factors in helping fuel that growth.
“Josh has been very good at directing us to agencies that can help us, including export organizations and marketing programs at the state level,” Absy says. “We definitely made use of that information in the past year.”
Recent successes include regaining access to markets in Saudi Arabia, which had been closed to U.S. beef for four years, Absy says. “That is one of our best accomplishments,” he says. “We plan to begin exports there this year.”
American Premium Foods’ products are served by restaurants, catering companies and hotels, and are sold in some supermarket chains. With perseverance and guidance, the company has been able to expand the number of countries it exports to from seven to 10, Absy says, “and we have an eleventh coming up soon: Singapore.”
For the first time, Absy staffed a booth at SIAL Middle East 2017 in Abu Dhabi, which attracted 1,072 exhibitors and more than 26,000 trade attendees. Absy distributed marketing materials and even a few samples. “Participating in SIAL Middle East was a great thing for us,” he says. “It gave us a one-on-one opportunity to educate many of our current clients and add new ones.”
The company began in 2014 as an international wholesaler and exporter of primarily “halal” processed meats to Middle East and Southeast Asia nations. Halal is an Arabic term which means permissible according to Islamic law. In reference to food, it is the Islamic dietary standard, as prescribed in Islamic Law.
Meat is the most strictly regulated of the food groups. The most common example of forbidden (or haram) food is pork. While pork is the only meat that cannot be consumed by Muslims, other foods not in a state of purity are also considered forbidden. The criteria for acceptable non-pork items include their source, the method of the animal’s death, and how it was processed.
American Premium Foods sells halal products such as beef bacon, turkey bacon, and deli products. Knowledge of the dietary requirements, and an educational background in chemical and process engineering, have been instrumental in producing high quality products that are well received globally, Absy says.
Nichol-Caddy previously provided international market research in preparation for the company’s attendance at Gulfood, an annual food exposition that attracts 90,000 buyers to the Dubai World Trade Center. He conducted the market research through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Absy, who in 2006 came from Palestine to Omaha to attend college and found the city a good environment to start a business, works with other food distributors and says he prefers to utilize Nebraska meat processors when he can. “With China’s elimination of its ban on U.S. beef and Singapore’s growing demand for halal meats, we see many opportunities in the near future,” he says, “for American Premium Foods and our partners.”