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Palestinian specialty food producers in New York

UPDATE: Palestinian pavilion featured in Foreign Policy Magazine (July 14, 2010).

The scent of sautéing, sumac-coated chicken lured visitors to the Palestinian pavilion at the 2010 Fancy Food Show in New York, June 27-29—but serious buyers stayed to establish contacts and place sample orders of olive oil, picked vegetables (olives, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers), spices and Medjool dates, among other Holy Land specialties. Palestine: Taste the Tradition showcased seven West Bank specialty foods producers at the biggest industry event in North America, which typically draws 24,000 buyers, distributors, caterers, and retailers.

Two weeks before the show, producers attended a workshop hosted by the Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion (EDIP) project on  trade/export requirements, procedures, show etiquette, and logistics. EDIP visited the companies prior to travel for final check-up and review of marketing materials, filmed various stages of food production at each facility, and interviewed top management about their expectations for the Fancy Food Show and how USAID support will benefit their respective businesses. Participating producers also contributed recipes to a cookbook distributed at the pavilion.

Preparation paid off. Exhibitors reported serious interest in Medjool dates—native to the Jordan Valley in the West Bank—and several buyers placed orders for pickles and olive oil.

“I will analyze these leads and then choose how to go forward,” said Tareq Abu Khaizaran of Zadona Agri-Industrial Company, pulling out a handful of scanned business cards receipts. “I’m happy with how the show is going.”

“We’re on a roll,” said Jarir Dirini, of USAID in Tel Aviv, who accompanied participants to the show. “I’m really impressed with the Palestinian booths. We can really build the importer-distributor relationship up in the U.S.”

Published July 2010