Elizabeth, NJ - Ontario-based Finica Food Specialties, a leading importer and distributor of specialty cheese and gourmet food items from around the world, is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a member of the Gellert Global Group. Two decades of integration and dynamic growth has transformed Finica Food Specialties, increasing sales ten-fold with a portfolio of award-winning items.
Founded in 1968 by Henning Strait and Gunther Mueller, Finica gained recognition with exclusive import rights for Valio® cheese products from Finland. The company name "Finica" originated from Finland (FI) being the first supply partner, Nina (NI) being Strait's only daughter; "CA" stood for Canada. Their select line of German food specialties and Finnish cheese was distributed throughout local Ontario delicatessens and specialty food boutiques. Unable to keep with the changing tides in the food industry, business began to decline in the early 1990s. Around that time, the Gellert Global Group began to expand its presence in the United States food arena and look for further growth opportunities. George Gellert, the group's Founder and President made an offer to Henning Strait who accepted in February 1995.
During this initial period, Finica repositioned itself to once again command a presence in the food importation market. Following his hiring, its current President, Paul Blake, oversaw several steps to revive the company which included expanding their cheese import portfolio to premium exclusives.
Their first major success was importing Zerto® Asiago from Wisconsin that went on to become the company's largest item in sales and solidified a distribution partnership with then Antigo Cheese, which later became Sartori Foods. The second major achievement was introducing Celebrity® Canadian Goat cheeses from local farmstead operation Mariposa Dairies, a Canadian business success story that now employees 60 people. Through combined efforts over the past 20 years, they are the second largest producer of goat cheese in Canada.
Finica went on to build their portfolio with non-dairy quota items, creating strategic partnerships with leading brands and companies, such as Menu® Italian Specialty foods and Dalmatia® jams, 34 degrees® Crackers and Volpi® Artisan Salami.
Their success prompted a move in 2013 to their current 26,000 square-foot office and distribution facility in Mississauga, Ontario. Today the company continues to represent respected quality brands and products from around the world including Beemster® Dutch cheese, Collier's Powerful Welsh Cheddar®, Snowdonia Cheese Company® Welsh cheese, and Sartori Bellavitano®. Their product line boasts over 95 awards and accolades including Lenberg Farms® Artisan Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar and Zerto® Fresh Mozzarella Logs.
Blake reflects, "Over the last 20 years we have been able to grow and succeed with a business model focused on a true passion for the industry, strong relationships with customers and suppliers and developing a portfolio that offers value and new, innovative ideas. It is important for us to take risks as you will never over achieve if you do not push the envelope. "
As a member of the Elizabeth, NJ based Gellert Global Group, Finica represents over 100 years in the food import industry, supplying the needs of retailers, distributors, foodservice chains, hotels, cruise lines, and food manufacturers. The combined revenues of the Group exceed $1 billion.
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