TOPSHAM (AP) – A gourmet foods company that has been featured nationally in culinary publications is expanding to draw in fine diners from coast to coast.

Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co., a small Maine company that has been getting a lot of national media attention for its products, will expand its choices with 10 products. And it’s all thanks to an award.

The company won the top gourmet prize last year for the Fancy Food Show’s outstanding meat, pat or seafood, sponsored by the National Association of Specialty Food Trades.

Afterwards, Amazon.com’s gourmet food Web site picked up Hancock products.

The items also are now featured in seven gourmet catalogs, including Neiman Marcus and Williams-Sonoma, as well as in 60 gourmet stores in 15 states. Since its opening three years ago, the company has seen its revenues grow 10-fold.

“The prize launched us into a whole new realm,” Hancock said. “When we started, we were a fourth-quarter business. We want to be year-long.”

The lobster company has grown and now employs six full-time employees, up from two when it started. Hancock’s husband, Jack Rosberg, also joined the company last year and helps in the finance and information-systems areas.

Chris Crocker, vice president of the specialty food trades association, said the company faces a new obstacle of what to do with the success.

“Every company encounters glass ceilings in development,” Crocker said. “The volume expands, you have additional equipment.”

Costs can outpace sales, and new questions about whether to go down-market into supermarket freezers will arise, he said.

But instead of expanding into supermarkets, the company is looking to grow its product line. Hancock is testing new meals such as lobster gazpacho, lobster whoopee pies and lobster pizza.

Hancock doesn’t want to forget the role her family tradition played in the company, so she won’t skimp on ingredients to cut costs and prices, she said. Neither would she consider selling the firm to a large corporation, she said. “Everything is made by hand,” Hancock said. “As the company grows, it outgrows what you do yourself. (But) I will still answer the phone.”


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