Samui Wining & Dining
Supply & Demand

In a highly competitive market, European Fine Foods has become a leading supplier of top quality worldwide produce.

 

17Samui is well known for the diversity of food offered right around the island. Not only are there hundreds of Thai restaurants, there’re just as many places that offer cuisines from Europe, South America, Africa and Pan-Pacific countries. And in years gone by, sourcing authentic, good quality non-Thai products was always a challenge.

All that has changed now and restaurateurs and chefs have several Samui-based companies that can deliver just about anything that’s available in the world market. One of these suppliers is European Fine Foods. And though it was only formed just over two years ago, the growth of the company has been nothing short of spectacular.

Managing Director, Guido Heynan, is originally from Germany and has spent nearly 20 years in the Food Service Industry. Ten of those have been focused on the Asian market and on Thailand specifically. And he’s no stranger to Samui. “I first came here about 22 years ago, before the airport was open. Back then you had to get an overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, find some transport to get to the port and then a ferry across to the island. It was an adventure and, though I didn’t know it then, I would return many times both for business and pleasure and eventually decide to live on the island.

His experiences with suppliers in Europe would lead to him forging new markets for their products in countries they had previously ignored or thought too difficult to break into. And by the time he was ready to launch European Fine Foods in 2008 he already had more than 20 leading brands, predominately German, lined up giving him exclusive rights to promote and sell their products in Thailand and around Asia. Since then he’s added British, Italian, Spanish, French and Australian companies to the portfolio as well, with bases in India, Dubai and in Thailand. Not only are many of the products exclusive to European Fine Foods, but many of them are what are termed ‘superbrands’. That means they are either number one or number two in terms of market leadership for that particular product.

And it’s not just resorts and restaurants that have been interested in what Guido and his team have to offer. Major retailers, such as TOPS, Tesco Lotus, Foodland, Villa, Carrefour, UFM, BigC, Aeon, The Mall and Central Retail, all have deals in place. And last year the latter presented European Fine Foods with their ‘Best Supplier Performance’ award; no small achievement for a relative newcomer. Broadly speaking, their products are divided in to four categories: bakery, dairy, dry goods, and perishables with some arriving chilled, others frozen, certain items fresh and others with long shelf-lives.

Undoubtedly, having a great range of top quality, exclusive produce has propelled European Fine Foods into the top tier of suppliers in Thailand. But it’s also Guido’s unstinting commitment to the business that has reaped rewards. “This year alone, I’ll have taken well in excess of 100 flights around Asia, the Middle East, India, Europe and Australia. I regularly meet with suppliers around the world and trading partners around Asia. And marketing ourselves at international trade fairs is essential, all of which means that I’m constantly on the go. I guess I get to spend about ten to twelve days a month at home on Samui, although much of that is still centred on work. On saying that, when I do have free time I’m very glad it’s here on Samui and not in Bangkok or a major city.

However, not content with being solely a wholesaler, Guido has taken things a step further on Samui. And it’s with expats and visitors in mind that he decided to open a shop in Chaweng last year. The term ‘shop’ though isn’t really appropriate, as it’s a combination of deli, restaurant, coffee house and showroom and whilst it’s not stocked like a supermarket it’s become hugely popular. Situated on just 30 metres to the north of Tesco Lotus in Chaweng within the new shopping plaza area (Wine Connection is at the entrance to it) on the ring-road, there’s plenty of parking and lots of reasons to browse. As you walk in you’ll see a deli counter with a good selection of meats, a fantastic range of cheeses, salads and some excellent snacks. Just recently they had a customer come in and try the homemade meatballs, he liked them so much he took all 80 that they’d just made for a party he was throwing that evening – that’s how good they are.

Around the store you’ll see bakery products, such as cake mixes and rye breads, organic jams and preserves (do try the strawberry and rhubarb) and hampers of all sizes that make wonderful gifts, either for friends or yourself. There’re also stacks of different sausages, packaged cheeses, cakes, frozen desserts (including a super-tasty plum cake) and jars of pickles, gherkins, mustards, horseradish, cranberry sauce and salad dressings. Items change somewhat each month and there’re always special promotions. That said, as they are a wholesaler and the store is really a showroom the same products that you would find in the supermarkets are 30%-50% cheaper here. And that allows for some fantastic bargains particularly on meats and cheeses.

They additionally have a small snack menu that also changes every month but you’ll find things like deep-fried mozzarella sticks with a spicy tomato dip (90 baht); baked camembert with fine wild cranberries (90 baht); meatballs stuffed with tomatoes, onions and peppers served with French fries (150 baht); kebabs with fries (150 baht); salami salad (120 baht); and some Thai dishes (60-150 baht). Their coffee is very good and they have some German beers in stock if that takes your fancy. If you like food it’s a brilliant place to wander around and I’d defy anyone to leave without buying something.

European Fine Foods has hit the right spot with its retail partners and residents on Samui and will only continue to grow. I’ll leave the last word to Guido on why he thinks the company has been so successful. “Every day we strive to bring innovative and unique products to Thailand. We listen closely to our customers and rely on our suppliers to advise us on new developments. I believe we move quickly in a dynamic market and give excellent value with our competitive pricing structure. And most importantly, I have a team with me that’s knowledgeable, creative and wholly committed to delivering the very best service possible. And I can’t ask for more than that.

 


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