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Japanese and other consumers have yen for Petrofsky's frozen raw dough bagels.

The "well-traveled" advantages of a patented dough process have led to a steady rise in sales for Petrofsky's Bakery Products, Inc. in Japan. The St. Louis, Missouri, USA-based company packs nearly 200,000 bagels every 10 days for delivery to the Land of the Rising Sun.

But it's not only the Japanese who are chewing up the 16 varieties of bagels that range in flavor from plain, pumpernickel and cinnamon-raisin to blueberry, jalapeno and pizza. So too are consumers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Canada, France, the UK and domestic markets stretching from Minnesota to Texas.

"Ten years ago we were a small business trying to make ends meet in a competitive market. Exporting helped push us over the top," said Jerry Shapiro, president of Petrofsky's international division. Taking notice of the foreign sales performance, the US Small Business Administration recently presented the company its 1993 Exporter of the Year Award.

Petrofsky's total overseas shipments amount to 100,000 units per day. Sales to all customers last year hit $12 million -- 10% of which was attributed to export trade. Overall volume is expected to reach 15% of the total in 1993, and surpass 20% next year.

Now operating with 130 employees at a 45,000-square-foot factory, the company began in 1937 as a small family-owned bakery. It started exporting in 1986, after inventing and patenting a "freeze and bake" technique that involves boiling the bagels before freezing. The process gives frozen bagels a six-month shelf life, thus enabling them to be shipped ready for proofing and bake-off at their final destination.

Petrofsky's marketing arm in Japan began reaching out in earnest three years ago after receiving support from the Mid-America International Agri-Trade Council (MIATCO) to launch an extensive advertising campaign there. The program included spots depicting bagels held in chopsticks and in baseball gloves, as well as a bagel car that toured the streets of Tokyo promoting the product. The line is represented by a major Japanese food importer that directs it through a seven-layer distribution chain to small markets and shops nationwide.
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Title Annotation:Frozen Foods in North America; Petrofsky's Bakery Products, Inc.
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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