Bottom Line // November-December 2023
By Epiphany Communications: Coaching & Consulting*
For the Denha Family, Tahini is in their blood.
“Our Family has always been known as producers of amazing Tahini,” said Gordon Denha, co-owner of the fourth-generation family-owned business that started in Zakho Iraq, in the Kurdistan Region.
The Denha family was proud to display Denha Tahini for the first time at MIRA’s September Holiday Food & Beverage Buying Show as they are now importing into the United States. They also plan to import it to other countries including Canada, Holland, and Germany through their company, Denha Group Distribution, LLC.
“The show was great for us,” said Denha. “We met with so many potential new customers who we hope will carry Denha Tahini in their stores.”
Denha Tahini was founded in 1895 by Yousif Toma Denha. His son Gorgees took over the business and taught his sons (Sabah, Dedar, Kedar, Thmar, Basil, Amer and Nashwan) how to run it. Today brothers Dedar, Kedar, Basil, Amer, and Nahwan rotate every few months traveling to Iraq to oversee the production. Amer’s sons Gordon, Delivan, and Valden along with Nashwan’s sons Styver, Nirwan, and Ivan also work in the business. However, Valden is on a path to pursue a medical degree.
“As our dads travel to Iraq, we oversee the distribution in the United States,” said Gordon. “However, my brother Delivan will be going to Iraq for several months to oversee the production and help my father.”
The business in Iraq always included a storefront and a production line. “Back in the beginning we didn’t have motors; donkeys pulled the stone wheels that crushed the sesame,” said Denha. “We added diesel machines in the 1950s and electric machines in the 1970s.”
With the donkeys, the company was able to produce 50 to 60 jars of tahini a day and today they have the capacity to produce several tons of sesame paste daily.
At the manufacturing plant in Iraq, they operate two shifts of employees starting at 2 a.m. “The machines start working at 7 a.m. and our last shift ends at 5 p.m.,” said Denha.
The product is distributed from their facility in Utica, Michigan. The Denha family received their first shipment of product just in time for the MIRA Holiday Show. “We have the product in seven markets in Michigan and we are getting requests from businesses all over the country,” said Denha. “Our goal is to master our distribution in Michigan and other states before we branch out to other countries. We met some great potential new customers at the show.”
One of the first customers to purchase the product was Mazin Hermiz from Paradise Fruit Market. “I’ve known about Denha Tahini for years since I lived in Baghdad,” said Hermiz. “My mom and dad would talk about the product. We’ve had so many customers ask for the Denha Rashi Tahini Paste. We saw on social media that it is being imported into the United States, and we are excited to buy it for our store. The company has a great reputation.”
The product can be eaten alone but is mostly used to make Hummus and Baba Ghanoush. “I actually drink a small amount of it daily,” said Denha. “Research shows that there are so many health benefits. It has helped curb my appetite and helped me lose some weight. I can’t say that others will have the same weight loss success, but it worked for me.”
While a common way to eat it in Iraq is with date syrup or actual dates, honey, bread and crackers, in the United States, it has mostly been incorporated into salad dressings.
“We have a sharp vision of how we want to grow the business,” said Denha. “Once we have a strong presence in stores, we want to grow our business in restaurants where we would sell them larger tubs of tahini instead of jars that we sell to stores.”
Right now, Denha Tahini is sold in 26.46-ounce jars and the suggested retail price is $9.99. “We are getting requests from all over the country and around the world,” said Denha. “Many Iraqis have left Iraq over the years and have settled in various countries. So many families are familiar with Denha Tahini and so when they see our social media platforms featuring our product, they call us to distribute to them. That will take some time. Right now, we are focused on mastering our distribution here in Michigan.”
Contact Denha Tahini by calling (248) 856-5330 or emailing email@example.com
*Writers with Epiphany Communications: Coaching & Consulting are content creators for Bottom Line.