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French Version

Interview with François Rizk...

Nothing better than Lebanese cuisine far away from Lebanon... Second House Products produces and exports a wide variety of Oriental puddings, Beans and Spices all over the world.
This week we met with Mr. François Rizk, owner of Second House Products an export-oriented foodstuff industry.

Yann Rotil: Could you tell us about the activities of your company?

François Rizk: Well, Second House Products (SHP) acts as a Manufacturer of a wide range of Lebanese foodstuff. 90 % of our production output is for export use, and the remaining 10% is destinated for local market.

Y.R: Which countries are you exporting to?

F.R: Basically all over the world! I can cite Europe, Americas, Africa, Arab countries, Australia. We have agents or wholesalers in all those countries or regions to whom we send containers while they take care of the local distribution.
As for the local market, we deal with many supermarkets, restaurants and hotels.

The adoption of some oriental products by foreign consumers can be affected as much by how the product concept conflicts with norms, values, and behavior patterns as by physical attributes. A novelty always comes up against a closely integrated cultural pattern, and it is primarily this that determines whether, when, how, and in what form it gets adopted.
SHP selected range of pudding items has been difficult to introduce into American & European countries, because the name Mohalabiah, Meghli, and Sahlab weren’t familiar to there ears besides, they do not resemble to any kind of sweets they posses and or consume. Knowing that the end users were supposed to be only Arabian people who already know the product. So the product itself didn’t have any problem, but the problem falls within the product name and its function. After many debates with FDA SHP have ended with a solution that it should mention on the package a brief description of the product along with the original name. So now we can find the following descriptions on the above-mentioned packages:

Mohalabia: Rice Pudding Vanilla flavor.
Meghli: Rice pudding Cinnamon flavor.
Sahlab: Starch Pudding

Package and weight play also a major role in each market. Let’s take the Beans and Spices group. In table below a short comparison is made to illustrate the major role of package and weight in different market:

Major Characteristics :
Big family members. Consume lot of home made meals.
Type of Package :
For beans they purchase the package of 1kg and/or Bulk· For Spices they purchase the package of 200g and or Bulk.

Major Characteristics :
Small Family members. Consume lot of ready fast food meals.
Type of Package :
For beans they purchase the package of 500g.· For Spices they purchase the package of 50g or 25g.

Y.R: What are your main product categories?

F.R: Because consumers buy satisfaction, not just parts, SHP must be constantly concerned with product quality. But what does high-quality mean? SHP focuses on better quality control in production, purchasing, and delivery- so that products tastes as they should and consumers really get what they think they’re buying.
Altogether they represent approximately 200 different products divided into 8 different categories.
It ranges from thyme, falafel, mohalabieh and sahlab, custard, moughrabiah to all kinds of mixed spices such as 7 spices, barbecue spices and chicken spices. In addition we pack all kind of beans and, of course our famous Lebanese home made bourghoul which is something special, for you can only find it in the Middle East.
We constantly try to lift our brand image, use, usage and users, due to packaging and labeling reforms. We always consider that the packaging along with the taste and quality of the product should play a major positive reinforcement.
We pride ourselves of being one the few companies that ship full containers on a regular basis; this allows us to complete a container of cans with other products and to satisfy the needs of our agents and clients.

Y.R: In terms of volume, how many containers do you ship abroad per month?

F.R: It depends on the period of the year. But consider an average of 10 Full containers per month. This is apart from the” Part-shipment” where other local exports or manufacturers purchase some of our products to complete the left empty space in their containers. Accounting wise the act of Part shipment is considered as a local transaction even if the final destination is abroad. As for SHP, we consider it as export sales because the products do not stand on Lebanese shelves or territories.

Y.R: In the beginning you told us about the regulations you have to comply with in order to be authorized to distribute your products in the US or in Europe. How do you handle these constraints?

F.R: First and foremost by trying to be informed about changes in these regulations as soon as they are planned. The sooner you’re informed the sooner you can react proactively and apply the required changes. We have a long experience in this field that result in prompt reactivity. We never suffered delays occurring because of regulation changes.

Y.R: How do you approach new distributors?

F.R: Mainly by participating to the largest trade exhibitions such as Sial in France or Fancy Food Shows in USA and ANUGA in Germany and many others. This gives our products an excellent exposure towards selected potential distributors in these countries. We also use the internet to present our products and we have an agreement with a famous e-commerce web site that delivers our products in remote areas or in countries with few Lebanese expatriates.

Beirut 27-07-2005
Yann Rotil

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