American Premium Foods
Sam Absy, owner of American Premium Foods in Omaha, says he relies upon the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) and Export Consultant and Market Research Analyst Josh Nichol-Caddy “to keep our eyes open to opportunities that will help our business.”
American Premium Foods was launched in February 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. “We partner with processing plants, most of which are situated in Nebraska, to produce our products from our recipes,” Absy says. “We currently export to seven countries where our products are served by restaurants, catering companies and hotels, and sold in some supermarket chains.”
Nichol-Caddy provided international market research in preparation for the company’s participation in 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). STEP funds are awarded by the SBA and, in Nebraska, applied for and administered by the state’s Department of Economic Development.
In addition, Nichol-Caddy has offered advice as American Premium Foods continues to seek additional contacts in the region, as well as information about how the company could expand its product offerings.
Absy, who in 2006 came from Palestine to Omaha to attend college and found the city a good environment to start a business, says he partners with other longtime exporters and prefers to utilize Nebraska meat processors when he can. “They offer superior products that have been well-received by my customers,” he says.
He says Nichol-Caddy and the NBDC have been very useful answering questions and offering guidance. “Josh has been helping throughout the business,” Absy says. “He tells us about local events and workshops, and he supplies market research. He did a pretty nice report for us about the market and the Middle East. He also passes on information about other organizations that work with exporters to expand their businesses.”
He says Nichol-Caddy regularly sends information detailing shows and events geared toward exporters. “Some we already know about, but most we don’t,” Absy says. “He keeps our eyes open.”
Absy says accurate information and reliable research is instrumental in growing a business in an extremely competitive and seasonal market such as his. “It’s good to know what’s going on out there,” he says, “and Josh continuously helps us add information to the pool.”
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