Food International, which was established in Dunedin in 1985, is now a leading supplier of ethnic foodstuffs in New Zealand. Particularly well-known for its comprehensive range of imported goods – especially the hard-to-find ethnic ingredients and Emborg European Cheeses – Food International is owned and operated by two Egyptian brothers, Adel and Alaa Yousef. Adel’s son, Khaled is the Sales & Marketing Executive.
Adel was the first of five Yousef brothers to leave his homeland for life here, settling in Dunedin with his New Zealand-born wife, Robyn, in 1978. With a Degree in Civil Engineering from Cairo’s Ain Shams University, his first job was in Dunedin with the Otago Catchment Board. This was followed by two years working as a Sales Engineer with Fletcher CSP and a promotion to Auckland in 1981, which included export work in the Pacific Basin. While working with CSP, Adel was also seconded by Tasman Pulp and Paper for a special export project to the Middle East.
In 1984 Adel moved back to Dunedin to start a new import company for the well-established company, Allied Press, (owners of the Otago Daily Times). In launching this business, he made many valuable international contacts – especially in the food arena as Oppex were importing fruit and vegetables the Pacific Islands, Japan and the Middle East. During this three-year stint in Otago, Adel was elected as the President of the Otago Export Institute.
Keen to put Food International on the map and also to join his parents and four brothers (who had all settled in New Zealand by this stage) Adel returned to Auckland in 1987. The business started out dealing mostly with Indian products, meeting a big demand in the market following the coup in Fiji with a major influx of Fijian Indians settling throughout New Zealand.
With the keen local interest in ethnic food, Food International’s range of products grew along with the steady growth of the company. They now offer a huge variety of foodstuffs – ranging from Indian Basmati rice through to North African couscous, Spanish sherry vinegar and Cajun spice mixes with the Emborg European Cheeses as a real focus now.
After three moves within Auckland, the company moved into their own spacious premises in Otahuhu in 1995. This location is close to the Auckland Airport and many of the major clients, while the warehouse facilities also provide space for the roasting and mixing of spices on the premises. You can usually smell the wonderful aroma exotic spices permeating from Food International a few minutes before you actually reach the premises!
The Yousefs operate their business with real enthusiasm, energy and a constant eye on overseas trends. Adel makes a major overseas trip on a yearly basis to buy the best of international ingredients on offer.