Fine Foods earns state award

Published 9:59 am Friday, September 9, 2016

A catering business morphed into a fine foods manufacturer after someone suggested Jeff Flathau and wife Heather bag their cookies and try to sell them on a larger scale.

From there, Flathau’s Fine Foods blossomed.

More than 10 years later, Flathau’s received an award from the governor for their “success in beginning, maintaining or increasing export sales to international markets,” in late August, according to a press release.

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Vicksburg native Jeff Flathau said after they had received some initial recognition for their shortbread cookies, they “were off to the races.”

Today the company exports to small shops, like Peterson’s downtown, and to global chains, like Chile’s Wal-Mart, called Lider, and the European version of TJ Maxx, called TK Maxx. They also sell to 15 to 20 companies in Canada and a few in Mexico, Flauthau said of the fine foods business, which is based out of Petal.

“Our sales and exports have risen each year for the past few years,” he said. “Some of the places we sell to are smaller and some are larger.”

The company’s key lime cookie, called snaps, is the best seller, he said, with lemon and raspberry rounding out the top three best sellers of the seven snaps flavors available.

For their exporting successes, Flathau’s received the Governor’s Award for Exporting Achievement during the 2016 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Exporting.

“I congratulate this year’s winners for growing their business and strengthening the economy through international trade. These businesses demonstrate Mississippi is a place where a variety of innovative companies thrive and enjoy years of success,” Gov. Bryant said in the release.

Flathau partially credits the success to the business they’ve garnered from attending export shows in partnership with the Mississippi Development Authority, the state’s lead economic and community development agency.

“They give you a lot of information to help you figure if the company is the right fit for you,” he said of MDA.

The next big thing for the company is partnering with TABASCO to use its dried seasoning in their cheese straws, Flathau said.

“We’re just waiting for the packaging to get back,” he added, noting he hopes to start production within three months.

He called the fine foods company a process of trial and error.

“We spend a lot of money learning along the way,” Flathau said. “Some of it is just taking a gamble.”