Feridies to be featured in overseas catalog

Published 4:03 pm Tuesday, July 22, 2014

COURTLAND—Late last week, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced details of his progress in getting Virginia products overseas to the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. One of the local beneficiaries of the mission is found here in Western Tidewater.

Feridies, the renowned Courtland-based company that produces gourmet Virginia peanuts and peanut products, has made a deal with Cotswold Fayre. That company, based in the United Kingdom, will include a selection of Feridies’ specialty foods in its Christmas 2014 catalog. Cotswold Fayre supplies international quality food and beverages wholesale to both independent and high-end retailers in the U.K. The company works closely with its suppliers, most of whom are small producers not currently distributing through major United Kingdom supermarkets.

This deal, organized by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, comes after a reverse trade mission promoting specialty food products.

Jane Riddick-Fries, vice president of sales, spoke about the arrangement.

“We work very closely with the Department of Agriculture and have for many years, just because they have a lot of support of Virginia speciality foods,” she said. “The department has offices in different countries — the UK, India, China and Mexico — and the goal is to find customers in those countries that would want to purchase Virginia foods and wine products. They work with the Department of Agriculture finding people like us to sell in those countries.”

Feridies is a regular at food shows in America. Just this past winter, for example, Riddick-Fries and her husband, Ted, went to California for such an event. During the International Fancy Foods show in New York City last summer, she said, Ted Horton in the UK had five or six companies that attended the trade show seeking out Virginia food products, and Feridies was one of those visited.

The company, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, is already acquainted with overseas markets.

“We do some international work now,” Riddick-Fries said. “We have pursued international leads because we do several trade shows. We get a lot of interest from international companies in Virginia peanuts. They’re not used to them.”

She added that doing business with other countries is not without challenges.

For one, cost can be an issue. In addition to paying for the premium products, there’s the added cost of labeling and shipping. The market might not be ready to bear that price.

Further, “every country has different requirements for packaging and labeling,” said Riddick-Fries. “The UK has special requirements for nutritional fat panels. These are different than in Canada and China and we need guidance. It can be a bit challenging.”

Then there’s the necessity to explain what exactly the company can offer.

“We spend a lot of time trying to educate consumers why the peanut is such a premium products versus other types of nuts,” she said. “Three fourths [of the work] is about educating. We try to promote extra-large peanuts overseas.”

The aforementioned Cotswold Fayre has presented Feridies products and is taking orders now.

“They selected five products at the trade show, as well for September, where the Department of Agriculture will be there to help us.

“They chose our salted peanuts in 9-, 18-, and 40-ounce cans, and 9-ounce cans of wasabi and hot and spicy.”

To learn more about Feridies, visit www.feridies.com. The company also offers The Peanut Patch Gift Shop on Route 58 in Courtland.