Ansay International started importing Bofferding to Belgium, Wisconsin, in 2014, and demand has grown at an incredible rate. We contacted them for an interview.
Ansay International's marketing director, Rob Ebert, was quick to reply to our interview request - and it's easy to see why. The young business for which he works is making quite a splash across the pond by selling a host of Luxembourgish products.
It all started rather by accident, explains Ebert. Co-owner Mike Ansay (who happens to be a dual citizen of the US and Luxembourg) worked with the Luxembourgish government to found the Luxembourg American Cultural Society in the rather ironic location of Belgium, Wisconsin. The society soon started hosting an annual "Luxembourg Fest," which celebrates Luxembourgish music and culture.
The keen-eyed owner of Bofferding, George Lentz, got in touch with them to see if they would be interested in selling Boffering at the fest - and of course they were. The first year, says Ebert, they sold out within hours - which led Mike Ansay and his daughter, Kate Ansay, to form Ansay International and start importing Bofferding in greater quantities. That was in 2014, and their company has been growing steadily ever since.
Beyond beer - other Luxembourgish products in the US
The pair soon got a taste for other Luxembourgish products as well, and set up deals to import other well-known Luxembourgish brands. Among them you will find mustard from Moutarderie de Luxembourg, wines from Domaines Vinsmoselle, and Ramborn cider.
Introducing proper cider to the Americans
Ebert's personal favourites are "Ramborn Perry Cider & the Mustard, in a tie." As far as the cider goes, he says that his "favorite variety is the Perry, it seriously tastes like you're biting into a delicious pear."
But Ebert also explained that "cider" doesn't necessarily carry the same meaning in the US: "There is a lot of confusion in America over what cider actually is. When we say "cider" here in the States, it often refers to just plain apple juice. That's why some people say "hard cider." But the market is very confusing because Miller Brewing also makes something called "Redd's Apple Ale," which sells very well, but is actually apple-flavored beer -- but it sells in the cider section of the supermarket."
"Additionally," says Ebert, "outside of hardcore cider aficionados, most people think of cider as being very sweet, and aren't used to drier ciders. When we give them the Ramborn Original, which is medium-dry, they're amazed at the flavor and that it's not too sweet. It's something they can have more than one of - and they usually do!"
As for his co-workers, Ebert says that "Kate Ansay, our co-owner, is a big fan of the Domaines Vinsmoselle rose we just added to our roster this year. She definitely enjoys the wine. And I've worked quite a few events with our Sales Manager, Kevin Mazza. The guy always has a Bofferding Pilsner in his hand."
What sets Luxembourgish food apart, and the future
Ebert explained that the products have been very well received, and that it's the high quality that sets them apart. "All the eating & drinking trends that are finally catching hold in the States, such as eating organic, farm-to-table, avoiding lots of additives etc., that's how things have been done in Luxembourg for a long time. People are seeking out high-quality food and beverages that are well crafted."
The wines, for example, are held in high regard "especially by people who know a lot about wine quality."
A bit of confusion..
There is a lot of education that goes with the business, says Ebert. "Outside of Luxembourg-Americans, most people aren't sure where Luxembourg is. To make it even more confusing, there's a city in Wisconsin called Luxembourg. So sometimes people think it's from Luxembourg, Wisconsin!"
Indeed, the most common questions they receive are "Where is Luxembourg?" followed by "What is your connection to Luxembourg?"
Into the future!
Ebert was understandably coy when we asked if they have any other products in the pipeline, but said that they "have a few items in the works right now. It's too early to say if we'll ultimately import them. But I will say we are always looking at expanding our current lines, and are open to new products from Luxembourg as well, if the opportunity presents itself."
He didn't want reveal the volumes they are working with at the moment (no shame in asking, right?), but did say that their "plans are to expand sales by 3-4 times in 2019."
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