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As an innovative commercial food processing company based in Jericho, Q Fine Foods aims to become a market leader in Palestinian baking and confectionery products, but this ambitious vision faced the challenge of adapting to the post-pandemic market. As a client firm of SMART, Q Fine Foods overcame this challenge and recovered to become more resilient to future shocks.

Q Fine Foods is a family-owned food processing company established in 2012. The company is owned and managed by youth and 53% of its employees are women. Their medium-sized production facility specializes in the processing of chocolate and locally grown Medjool dates, refining high-quality raw materials to supply the key ingredients for sweets and confectionery recipes. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the competition from low-cost imports threatened the firm’s market share. At the same time, the company saw new growth opportunities through exporting bulk orders to Israeli buyers.

In 2022, the company seized the opportunity to partner with the SMART Project through its Private Sector Rapid Recovery Program (PSRRP). As a SMART client firm, Q Fine Foods invested in critical repairs and upgrades to their facilities, bolstered by cost share through an in-kind USAID grant. Firstly, the factory invested in repairs and maintenance to critical equipment to recover large-scale production. Following the client firm’s initial investment in repairs, the SMART Project split the cost of major equipment upgrades, including a new chocolate mixer, date grinding machine, vacuum sealer, and cool storage equipment. SMART’s support also included a gap assessment to ensure products meet export quality standards.

The Recovery Plan was completed in August of 2023, which allowed the factory to ramp up production for a major export deal with an Israeli chocolate company. However, following the outbreak of the Gaza War in October, the deal with the Israeli importer fell apart, and all inventory was returned. This had a devastating impact on Q Fine Foods, which was forced to lay off 14 employees.

Despite this setback, the CEO of Q Fine Foods, Ibrahim Al-Qawasmi is confident that the factory can adapt to the loss of this export market by strengthening and diversifying domestic markets. Local boycotts and supply chain disruptions have created new opportunities to compete with imports. The upgraded equipment for processing and packaging will allow them to diversify their wholesale product lines into the retail market with products sized, packaged, and labeled for consumer usage in the West Bank. While the impact of losing the export contract was severe, the company can pivot and mitigate losses by utilizing recently gained production capacity enabled by their Recovery Plan.

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