Euro USA was founded in 1986 by President Duff O’Donnell, who recognized the potential for specialty foods in the retail and foodservice industries. “When we started, we were selling balsamic vinegar, chocolates and fresh mushrooms from Europe to retailers and restaurants,” O’Donnell recalls. As Americans’ appetites for new and unusual foods grew, Euro USA saw an opportunity to provide these new customer desires and soon became a leading importer and distributor of European cheeses, olive oils, pastas, confections, spices, charcuterie and other exotic foods.
When the opportunity to merge with Cleveland seafood distributor Navillus Seafoods – owned by Sean Sullivan – arose in 1998, Euro USA jumped at the chance to add the delicacies of the sea to its wide variety of offerings.
Today, Euro USA offers more than 6,000 unique items, ranging from fresh and frozen seafood to fresh pasta and aged cheeses. Sullivan is now vice president of Euro USA.
“The national companies just don’t have the breadth of products we do,” Sullivan boasts.
In 2000, Euro USA built a state-of-the-art distribution facility to accommodate not only the fresh seafood division, but also the increasing variety of high-end foods and ingredients the company was beginning to offer. The new building also allowed the company to expand by creating a cut-and-wrap cheese program for retailers. The new facility provided Euro USA additional freezer space and more dry storage. The company even was able to incorporate a new and efficient seafood processing facility.
Even though Euro USA started by bringing its clients the finest cheeses, aged vinegars, premium olive oils for cooking and finishing, unique dressings and sauces glazes, chocolates, cocoas, spreads and specialty flours, and other handcrafted food items, the company saw the potential for offering quality local goods, too.
“As the tastes of the American people changed to more upscale and unique flavors, we responded,” Sullivan explains. “We actively sought out local producers who were making the types of specialty foods that we felt fit with our other premium and high-end offerings our customers wanted.”
Within the past few years, Euro USA has added fresh meat and poultry to the mix by aligning with Niman Ranch (a producer of all-natural beef, lamb and pork) and La Belle Farms (producers of heirloom chickens and eclectic poultry).
Euro USA recently partnered with Pat LaFrieda Wholesale Meats as the exclusive distributor of the meat program in the United States. Located in the heart of Manhattan, Pat LaFrieda has served as the preeminent butcher to the highest profile steakhouses in New York for more than 90 years.
Euro USA produces grade and aging verification on every beef product. This extra step, Sullivan adds, assures a more consistent product and delivers a superior eating experience. This partnership allows Euro USA to provide its customers with all-natural pâtés and terrines, specialty salami and sausages crafted with high-quality ingredients, and traditionally raised lamb, pork and poultry products.
“We have also expanded into the wine business by partnering with [international fine wine importers] and are launching Euro Fine Wines,” Sullivan says. “As Americans travel and become more worldly – combined with the emergence of the Food Network, the Internet and celebrity chefs – the world of specialty foods has never been more vibrant. Euro USA continues to be a leader in an industry whose potential is boundless.”
Today’s popular concepts of all-natural, clean, sustainable and slow food may be ideas and concepts that are finally catching on in the mainstream media and food industry, but these ideas and concepts are not new to the people at Euro USA.
“We’ve been offering products that fall under that [trendy and responsible] umbrella for some time now,” Sullivan notes. “We partnered with local dairies and farms that produce ‘clean’ food several years ago.”
Euro USA also is acting responsibly when it comes to its fish offerings. The company believes in a marketplace that rewards fisheries where fish are caught and farmed responsibly. In order to do this, Euro USA is encouraging its customers to use their buying power to select seafood that is abundant, well-managed and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways.
The company also is asking its customers to try something new and spread the consumption beyond a few popular fish. “Ask for items that are sustainable choices and find a tasty, healthy new favorite,” Euro USA says.
Looking to the future and staying ahead of the curve is just one way Euro USA has stayed successful. In fact, the company is looking to expand to the Chicago area by partnering with another seafood distributor. However, Sullivan says the real driving force of the company’s success is the people who work there.
“We truly have the best people in the industry,” he states. “They really know the products and are experts in their particular areas. The atmosphere we’ve created makes this a fun place to work. The turnover here is very low because we treat our employees with respect.
“We pride ourselves on the high caliber of our product mix, the timeliness and efficiencies of our distribution, and the most thoroughly educated sales staff in the business.”