FoodTalks with Giraffe Foods
A Food and Beverage Ontario Initiative.
Ontario’s food and beverage processors nourish people across the province and the globe. It’s time to celebrate these wonderful businesses. Food and Beverage Ontario is delighted to launch FoodTalks – an initiative to feature our members and their successes. Read on to meet with Mike Kagan, Sales & Marketing Director at Giraffe Foods. Enjoy!
Q. Mike, tell us about Giraffe Foods.
A. We are Canada’s leading manufacturer of private label sauces, dips, marinades, dressings and other similar products. We supply our products to retail, foodservice and industrial customers throughout Canada, the United States and internationally. At Giraffe Foods, we work closely with customers to create delicious custom formulated products in a wide variety of customized packaging. We now have three locations in Mississauga – one dedicated to production and two others focused on research & development and warehousing.
Q. And what about your people?
A. We have 200 people on the team including a very large research & development and regulatory unit that is at the disposal of our customers to help them launch new and exciting food products. My own background is in chemistry, which has proven a real asset in understanding the food science behind new product development and scaling up of production.
Q. Giraffe Foods was recognized as one of Canada’s best managed companies. What did that mean for the team?
A. We all felt a sense of pride and accomplishment with this award – it really galvanized the team in support of our strategy. We know people around the globe recognize this award so it lends supports to our brand identity and great reputation within the industry.
Q. Much of your business is about staying ahead of food trends. Tell us what’s on the horizon.
A. Great food is our passion. We love the continuing trend to more exciting and diverse flavour profiles which really let’s us have fun and be creative with the development process. People want authentic global experiences at home and at restaurants. At the moment, our corporate chef is deep into Middle Eastern flavours – think North African, Turkish and Lebanese. He’s also experimenting with peppers and I am not talking about chipotles. We are designing products with poblano, ancho, aleppo, maresh chili and calabrian chili to name a few.
Q. How do food companies find Giraffe Foods and what drives their decision to work with you?
A. Most of our clients are referred to us by a contact in the food industry, such as a product developer or perhaps one of our vendors. We work quickly and are agile which makes it possible to act fast when a client needs a new product on the market promptly. We take pride in understanding shifting demographics and related consumer preferences towards ethical sourcing, sustainability practices and trends such as new ingredients for organic and non-GMO products.
Q. Why are you a member of Food and Beverage Ontario?
A. We want to stay connected and support our own colleagues in the food industry by participating in trade shows and networking events. Being a member of Food and Beverage Ontario is an example of engaging with the whole food community we work with.
Q. Last question is on the latest announcement by the Government of Canada to ban single-use plastics. What’s the expected impact for you?
A. Like other manufacturers we are still waiting for more details but we anticipate working closely with our packaging partners and customers on new products and materials. Shelf life is clearly a top consideration for us but we are generally supportive of this policy and do not anticipate a negative impact.
To learn more about Giraffe Foods visit giraffefoods.com
Thanks Mike for your time!
Food and Beverage Ontario