Successful Macedonians in America: Va-Va ajvar has 'conquered' America08 January, 17:00
Our goal is for the ajvar to become an irreplaceable part of every American meal – say our interlocutors – Macedonians with an American address, who have found their place in the great US market, providing with a high-quality homemade winter supplies.
Irena Ivanovska and her brother, Kiro, came to America in 1987 with their parents, Ivanco and Lile. Their father was sent to America as a representative of "Metalski Zavod Tito" at the time.
After he decided to stay in America in 1991, Ivanco Ivanovski founded the Fast-Pack Trading Company, which was an importer of machine parts from Macedonia. Somehow, at the beginning of 1999, he also started to import small amounts of food products from Macedonia. Shortly after that, the company fully re-oriented towards food import and sale.
What started as a small, 5000-square meter, storage space has now turned into 75000 m2 in New Jersey. The company now has its own production line, under the name of their Va-Va brand, other than import.
Organic products made in Macedonia
The Fast-Pack Trading family company is supplying the US market mostly with products from the Balkan countries, but also from Hungary, New Zealand, etc. Their products are healthy, natural and organic and that is what makes them interesting to American consumers, whose interest in healthy and organic food is ever-growing. Most of the products, or the products that are mostly sold by the family, are the Macedonian products. The most famous ones are the Va-Va products, with the Macedonian Va-Va ajvar being the most sought after, whether it is chili or sweet.
Other popular Va-Va products, other than the ajvar, are the lutenica, the peppers filled with cheese, the pindjur, the malidjano and all kinds of winter salads that are common to the Macedonian area.
Direct and on-line sale
The products are not only popular with Macedonians, people from the ex-Yugoslav countries or from the former Soviet countries, but with Americans as well.
The name Va-Va comes from the names of the founder and his business partner in Skopje, Vanco Stojanovski, whose duties are to make contacts with companies in the Balkans that want to sell their products in USA.
"In the selection of the products our company is looking for constant quality, good taste, healthy and natural ingredients without many additives and an attractive design of the package" – says Kiro Ivanovski, at the company since 2004, now head of the company.
Fast-Pack Trading exists both as a physical and as an on-line store, which makes its placement possibilities even bigger.
Fast-Pack Trading is an exclusive sales representative for the Airborne honey from New Zealand and Granny's Secret fruit products from Serbia, among other things, but most of the products are from Macedonia.
"Not only we are producing ajvar, lutenica, malidjano, pickles and other products, but we are also cooperating with many Macedonian factories, such as Evropa, Vinchini, Vitalia, Vitaminka, Aneta, Koro, Kvatro, Swisslion and others. We recently started importing Macedonian cheese produced by Vardar-Gradsko" – says Irena.
Their products can be found in markets in almost every American state and in nearly every bigger American city. The demand for those places where no direct sale is available is covered by the on-line store.
Promoters of Macedonia
Through their company, the Ivanovski family is a great promoter of Macedonian products. They are constantly emphasizing and promoting Macedonia as a country of high quality food products. All of the Va-Va products are made by traditional home Macedonian recipes and that fact is a prominent part of their marketing of the Va-Va product line.
They come to Macedonia at least twice a year. That is when they make new deals, as well as check on the quality and maintain business contacts. Their partner in Macedonia has already started expanding the Va-Va product line to the Macedonian markets.
"We are proud to have started Fast-Pack Trading out of scratch and to have grown into a successful company. We are glad that we can help Macedonian companies place their products on the American market, while spreading Macedonian food all over America at the same time. Our associates from Macedonia and other countries are considered our friends and part of our family. We tend to cooperate with other small family companies particularly, because that is how we can establish close personal relations and guarantee the quality of our products. Our success is largely due to the fact that we have kept the Macedonian customs and mother tongue while learning and adjusting to American culture" – says Irena.
She is proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to study at some of the best American universities, to learn and develop the passion for her greatest interests. She majored in Bio-engineering at the Columbia University. She has a PhD in molecular biology at the Princeton University on the topic of cell division mechanism, and then she had her post-PhD at the MIT Whitehead Institute. During that time she got several prestigious scholarships. She has worked at the Merck research laboratories where she has participated in researches in the earliest stages of discovering new cures for cancer and other immune diseases such as rheumatism and asthma.
Kiro Ivanovski graduated at the computer science department at the Rutgers University.