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America has a food-obsessed culture – and that’s a good thing.
A deep-rooted love and appreciation for flavorful, inventive meals and snacks is driving the industry forward and inspiring cuisine-focused entrepreneurs to open up their own businesses and restaurants where they can get creative with their offerings. Specialty food is an especially desired item among U.S. consumers who crave gourmet-style snacks made with fresh, exotic ingredients from around the globe. One company leading in this industry is Encore Foods, the go-to resource for imported goods from the Mediterranean market.
On this week’s episode of Ditch The Box, host David Marinac sits down with Jeremy Johnson, General Manager and National Sales Manager at Encore Foods, who details his journey with the company and how his team is partnering with trusted suppliers and customers to offer the latest exciting imported food products in the U.S. Encore Foods specializes in providing distributors and food service and retail customers all-natural artisan eats from countries like France, Italy, Spain, and Greece. A family owned business since 2004, Johnson explains his father’s passion for French cooking and language inspired him to begin his foray into offering American consumers the international flavors that are pleasing palates across the waters.
The company prides itself on staying keenly aware of new global food trends and working to find people to fulfill those trends so they can begin distributing them in the American market. Johnson says Encore is the 3rd food company his father founded after spending years selling French cheeses. This particular brand has branched out to offer products like foie gras, escargot, Dijon mustards, truffle oils, caper berries, crostini, and other vibrant ethnic staples that are quickly becoming a key part of American diets. The company sells these packaged products and determines which goods they select by listening to their customers, relying on European suppliers to offer their insights on overseas trends, and visiting trade shows throughout the year to find companies doing exciting new things with their food product lines.
Johnson says word of mouth has been huge in his company’s success, and relying on global partnerships with flexible suppliers has been essential. Finding suppliers who are willing and capable of quickly meeting consumer demand has been an important part of the company’s operations. Because they really trust and build relationships with their customers, everyone has to be on board with their consumers’ demands and feedback on products and retool their product lines accordingly. Johnson stresses how important it is to actually travel to the location where the product is manufactured to see where exactly it’s coming from, how it’s made, and who is making it. This will ensure the quality of the food is never compromised and a brand like Encore Foods has a full understanding of the items they are selling to loyal customers.
Johnson has become a trusted source in sharing his insight on the specialty foods market, appearing in publications like The New York Times, The Gourmet Retailer, and CNBC. He says making himself visible and present at events like the Fancy Food Show has been instrumental in his success, as he’s able to meet new customers, interact with existing customers, and meet and learn from industry leaders under one roof. He feels that Encore Food can really thrive when working with independent owners and operators, as they’re more likely to educate consumers about specialty foods than larger chain retailers. The specialty foods market will only continue to grow and prosper, and building strong, mutually beneficial relationships with trusted partners, customers, and suppliers is the cornerstone of success in this industry.