High Point company sets sights on exporting

Jun. 28, 2014 @ 03:00 PM

Since starting their granola business a few years ago, Rodney and Lavinia Hensley have found that tapping into new markets has been a key to the growth of Big Boss Baking Co.
Retail chains like The Fresh Market and Whole Foods carry their homemade products — flavors such as Honey Vanilla, Apple Cinnamon, Honey Almond and Cranberry and Blueberry Walnut are especially popular — on the shelves of their stores all over the country.
The High Point husband and wife have now found what they hope will be a vast new frontier of consumers.
The Hensleys recently exported their first shipment of granola to China.
The purchase came as a result of an inbound trade mission that was held in Concord in March that was organized by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The Department of Agriculture’s international section brought buyers from several countries in Asia, Europe and North America to the U.S. to meet with food companies.
A representative from Uniworld International Trading Company Ltd. in Beijing ordered 13,000 pounds of granola from Big Boss Baking.
“He ordered a 20-foot container, which was stacked from floor to ceiling — not 1 inch of space left,” said Lavinia Hensley. “What we sort of got from him was that it was going to be new to their market. He was looking for cereal, snacks and things like that, and we sort of fit what he would need. Obviously, he thinks it will do well over there.”
Big Boss Baking has joined other Triad companies, such as Miss Jenny's Pickles of Kernersville and T.W. Garner Food Co. of Winston-Salem, in turning to exporting, said Paul Jones, media marketing specialist with the Department of Agriculture.
In 2012, North Carolina posted more than $3.9 billion in agricultural exports. The state is currently ranked 11th in the nation for exporting, Jones said.
“Agricultural exports are important because they boost farm prices and incomes for local farmers and food businesses. In addition, they support about 68,000 jobs on the farm and in food processing, storage and transportation,” he said. “In recent years, China has emerged as a huge export market for North Carolina agricultural products. We have also found success in Europe, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.”
The distributor came to Big Boss Baking’s new facility in south High Point and saw how the company’s granola is made, using original recipes that include no preservatives, no dairy products, no trans fats and no wheat, with everything mixed by hand.
Next month, the Hensleys are headed to China on another Department of Agriculture trade mission. They also plan to meet with buyers from India.
“We’re always looking for new markets, whether we’re selling our brand or getting into private-label bulk markets like school systems and the military,” said Lavinia Hensley. “If I’m exporting, I’m probably going to be hiring, which benefits the economy.”