As part of the Agri-Food Innovation Days AFID2022, QOOT organized B2B meetings to introduce cluster members and innovative agri-food businesses to international buyers giving them the chance to present their products and explore export and distribution potential.
Following the event, many follow-through agreements were signed. Terroirs de l’Orient, an importer and wholesaler of Lebanese food products in France and Europe, closed orders with Smart Gourmet, Darmmess, and Saifan. Orders have been already been shipped or on their way. This mission was funded by the Productive Sectors Development Program, a 3-year program funded through the generous contribution of the Government of Canada.
“We succeeded to close the first order with Terroirs de L’Orient in Paris, products will hit supermarket shelves in June 2022,” announces Jad Attalah, Co-founder of Smart Gourmet and member of the QOOT cluster. Smart Gourmet, currently being rebranded to Flavva, produces healthy natural food, rich in vitamins, preservatives, and GMO-free with an extended shelf-life of up to 1 year.
“The buyer was looking for innovative products that meet all the French regulatory requirements. We had no challenge following the French regulatory food labeling standards as we already ship to Quebec and follow the same requirements. He was particularly interested in the curing mechanism we adopted to kill all bacteria and extend our product’s shelf life, minimizing his chances of food recall fees. The shelf life of one year is enough to give the distributor the time luxury to sell the product and save on food waste risk.”
Jad had not been able to attend AFID in person as he was caught up in Canada opening Smart Gourmet’s third factory. The buyer had the chance to be properly introduced to their products at the QOOT booth and Jad was able to follow through with the introduction and succeeded to close the deal.
“The buyers were looking for a differentiated product which could pick up and generate a profitable business,” points out Rose Bechara Founder of Darmmess, producer of award-winning, premium extra-virgin olive oil. High-end Lebanese olive oils are demanded globally and the supply is not available for many reasons. Rose explains what differentiates Darmmess oil: “Darmmess has got various competitive advantages. It comes exclusively from Deir Mimas, commonly referred to as the Bordeaux of olive oils: millennial trees, white soil rich in clay, and ideal climate and altitude for the olive trees. We add to that a unique production process: an early harvest of unripe green “Souri” Olives, one of the oldest and best varieties in the world, going from tree to bottle in 24 hours, then filtered. The result is a product with a very low acidity and high polyphenols content. Darmmess ranks in the silver category of high phenolic olive oils, a very new and small category, taking the oil to the level of food supplement preventing and reversing serious diseases. We were the first movers in entering this category as a Lebanese olive oil. With this differentiator, we can penetrate the European market.”
“Darmmess has got very small profit margins as it practices Social Entrepreneurship with Deir Mimassi farmers, empowering them also at the technical level to sustain and develop organic culture,” adds Rose.
Said Saifan producer of olive oils, olives, and olive oil soaps since 1939 has also shipped a palette to Terroirs de L’Orient. Sami Saifan explains that the buyers “had particular requirements regarding ethics of doing business, and were searching for consistency and a long-term relationship.” In his case, buyers are attracted to their new line of Saifan Gourmet extra virgin olive oil with a new branding, new packaging, and new logo. Another order is also now being prepared to be sent to Terroirs de L’Orient containing extra virgin olive oil and olives.
Although not yet a member of the QOOT cluster at that time, Sami was able to join the B2B activity and now truly believes in the power of clustering and the advantages it brings to his business.