A Chat With Justin Rashid, founder and president, American Spoon Foods
CS: What is your current biggest business challenge and how do you plan to resolve it?
JR: Our biggest challenge is the high cost of our ingredients. We buy the finest fruits anywhere. And we make everything here in Petoskey. We buy the finest American ingredients and make everything here and almost all of our inputs are local or regional. The prices are very high, and the prices go up with energy costs as everything else does. That’s our biggest challenge, that our model is based on delivering an incredible value in terms of flavor, and we deliver that value with a very high content of wonderful ingredients. They’re not inexpensive. The way we’re coping with it is to form close, mutually dependent relationships with the best growers who’ve sold to us directly for many many years. And they offer us more stable prices for the long term relationship. We do that with our highest volume fruits.
CS: What are some key points to your success?
JR: Our close relationships with farmers. Our intimate knowledge of our fruit growing region and our regional advantages. We really have authenticity; we don’t have to fake it. We really do what we say we’re doing. We have a passion for flavor. That flavor is authentic, and we come by it honestly. We have a lot of people who work for us who share that inspiration. Another great advantage we have is because we’re small and we sell so much of our stuff directly to our catalog customers and in our own retail stores, we have direct relationships with our customers and that keeps us in touch with their perceptions and their priorities and their interests and their tastes. I think we’ve been pioneers and innovators in our field. So we try to do things first and leave it to others to try and imitate us. In general, being small, we do the opposite of what bigger companies do. The strategy of many large food companies is to put as little real food as possible into the jar. We put as much wonderful fruit as possible into the jar and we assume that our customers will perceive the value.