European Imports, Inc. (EI) was a family-owned importer and distributor founded in 1978 by Beverly and Seymour Binstein. The company began as a cheese importer supplying the Chicago market. In 1984, EI started its foodservice division, supplying product to major hotel, white tablecloth restaurants, caterers and foodservice jobbers in the Chicago area. Nationally, the foodservice business was handled by each EI warehouse (Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix & San Francisco) and through other distributors. EI emerged as a full-line specialty food distributor servicing retailers and foodservice accounts in the Midwest, Southeast, South, Southwest and Northern California regions. On March 1, 2012, EIL was acquired by Sysco, a nationwide distributor. Due to this acquisition, European Imports products are now available through Sysco Companies across the US.
Expansion has been successful due to the following acquisitions:
1987Cheese & specialty food division of Noon Hour Foods, Chicago, IL
1993Distribution business of Charlotte Charles Inc., Chicago, IL
1997Wild Game Inc., Chicago, IL
2000Distribution Business of "Life in Provence" label
2000Pee-Wee Imports, Phoenix, AZ
2001Raisin River Fancy Foods, Chicago, IL
2003Classic Gourmet Inc., Atlanta, GA
2006Chef's Warehouse Arizona Distribution
2007Gourmet Foods Int'l, Dallas, TX
2007World Delicacies, Dallas, TX
2008Jonz Foods, Inc., Gurnee, IL
2011Vallero Mercantile, Denver, CO
2011Peak to Peak, Denver, CO
2012EI Acquired by Sysco
EI offers imported, artisan and domestic cheeses that can make any store unique in its marketplace. With a 2,000 square foot cheese-cutting and wrapping facility, EI provides cheese to the traditional deli as well as the grab-n-go convenience coolers.
The 1997 acquisition of Wild Game Inc., launched the distribution of 500 specialty and exotic meat and charcuterie items such as venison, buffalo, ostrich, game birds, all natural pate, sausages and foie gras. Originally geared toward the foodservice trade, growth in this segment includes retail packaged products.
EI's niche in the industry is its range of perishable and shelf stable specialty foods for both the retail and foodservice segments. Product lines include: imported and domestic specialty cheese, exotic fresh meat and game, salami, pate and seafood, chocolate, par-baked bread, pastry ingredients, non-alcoholic beverages, and a diversified selection of shelf stable goods such as oil, vinegar, cookies, pasta and much more.
In 2000, EI acquired the license to the "Life in Provence" line of French specialty foods. Growth of this line extends into several categories while preserving the concept of the Provencal way of living. Lines from countries associated with "epicurean delicacies" include: Amber Valley from the UK, Cucina Viva from Italy, Chi Bao from Asia, Cocina Selecta from Spain, Le Village from France and Love of Fare from the United States.
In addition, product specialists specialized in keys areas of cheese, game and pastry are available to increase product knowledge, assist with customer specific product selection and training. Category Managers are being established to assist Sysco's sales staff with the education and sales of specialty food. The EI marketing program is designed to provide merchandising support to fit the needs of each retailer.
EI is not just selling product, but more importantly, service. Customers receive the same personal attention today as when the company was founded. Its goal is to adjust to the ever-changing needs of the specialty food industry, stay current on culinary trends and continue to improve quality, service and dependability.EI continues its pledge to: