For Shelina Mawani, co-founder and director of sales and marketing at Surrey-based Nana’s Kitchen, her golden ticket came in the form of a BRC Global Standards certification. The international standardization program for manufacturers allowed her food service and grocery retail business to tap into the massive U.S. ethnic-food market.
“We had started our business as Indian food, but right now we’ve positioned ourselves to be convenient comfort food with a global taste,” Mawani said. “So right now we’re doing chimichangas, we’re doing apple pies, we’re doing mexi-rice. So we’re not labelled as an Indian company anymore.”
Mawani, who started the business with her sister, Nasim Dhanji, in 2000 after a failed restaurant venture, said it wasn’t until a few years after they got their BRC certification in 2009 that they started to get noticed south of the border.
The only problem was that the Canadian dollar was on par until 2013. Now that U.S. grocery chains can buy their food for a reduced price, business has most definitely picked up, Mawani said. Nana’s Kitchen sells to Alaska, Hawaii, California and Florida, with distribution to an estimated 5,000 grocery stores in those states.
The business recently won a Surrey Board of Trade award, and a recent report titled The Specialty Food Market in North America by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada highlights the growing taste for more exotic fare that Nana’s Kitchen is catering to.