Specialty Food Magazine

APR 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/59016

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Page 62 of 63

Q&A C Q Making Pâté an Everyday Staple BY DENISE SHOUKAS ombining her husband's pâté-making heritage with her own sales and business acu- men, Laurie Groezinger Cummins, president of Groezinger Provisions/Alexian Pâtés and Specialty Meats, and her late husband created an award-winning company offering 25 varieties of pâtés and mousses as well as whole-muscle meats and kielbasa. The busi- ness helped turn pâté into a grab-and-go staple by introducing single-serve packaging to the industry in 1998. Here, Cummins talks about packaging innovations, her greatest challenge and her ideal meal. What elements do you take into consideration when creating new products? From a production and process standpoint, we consider whether we have the equipment and whether the process would "fit in" with our current practices efficiently—and also whether the ingredients are readily available in the standard of quality that we desire. From a sales standpoint, it is not enough to produce something you think is good and hope that the rest of the world will agree with you. Experience has validated for us what is taught in Marketing 101: that a need for a solution must be identified. As for flavor, it is a combination of inspiration, art, and trial and error. Your 7-ounce single-serve packaging has been incredibly successful. Why did you introduce a smaller 5-ounce portion? When the economy imploded in the fall of 2008, we felt that our customers would welcome a smaller package and a smaller retail price. We also hoped that the new size would encourage trial by those unaware of the delights of pâté. It was a bit risky because we didn't know how long it would take to reach the same sales vol- ume in terms of weight, since the unit size was 20 percent smaller. Happily, we sold so many more units that we actually surpassed the earlier level within the first 12 months of sales. What has been your biggest challenge? The biggest challenge I have ever known was trying to rescue and grow this business after the sudden death of its owner, who was also my husband. We were not well endowed with working capital at the time. Our home and business was cross-collateralized. The bank was nipping at my heels. And I had two young children who needed me as much as the business did. 60 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE ❘ specialtyfood.com What is the biggest perk of your job? Most of all I like to celebrate our company's successes with all of the members of the Alexian team. I like to serve Champagne on anniversaries, pay bonuses at year-end and read love letters to them from our customers whenever we are blessed to get them. If you knew you were having your last meal, what would you eat? Assuming that Alexian was sold out, it would definitely be French and German cuisine, such as white asparagus soup to start, or a slice from a foie gras terrine if the soup wasn't available, and then chicken coq au vin with spaetzle—not to be delivered without a very expensive bottle of French Bordeaux. Then, I would like a chaser of creme brulee and port wine. |SFM| Denise Shoukas is a contributing editor to Specialty Food Magazine. COURTESY OF LAURIE GROEZINGER CUMMINS

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