The distributor, which sells into both the retail and food service channels, has seen a lot of US brands looking to break into the UAE market, both as restaurants, and following them, food producers, says the firm’s head of food services, Juan Lopez.
The American invasion
“A big contribution comes from American brands – many, many brands are coming into the market, such as Texas Roadhouse, Cheesecake Factory, Potbelly, you name it. And I can see the same trend of suppliers coming from America to promote their products,” said Lopez, speaking at Gulfood earlier this month.
He added that while American brands are some of the most prominent, there is a wider movement towards the UAE: “One particular thing that has caught my attention is the fact that different parts of the world have turned their attention to the UAE market, because of the strong economy, strong growth being projected. The entire world has realised this is a place we need to be in. And this is also a great opportunity for us.”
Farm Fresh is in the process of scouting for new brands to add to its roster, one of its key priorities at Gulfood, as well as promoting its existing ranges. Lopez said the firm was aiming to stay abreast of trends such as the current popularity of American brands.
“We’re expanding our portfolio of products – among the brands we distribute today are McCain, Emborg, Sara Lee, India Gate, which is coming aboard, and others which are under negotiation. We are looking at expanding our portfolio, to offer what the market is demanding. There are several new trends in the UAE market, and we need to make sure we’re at the same pace,” said Lopez.
For the coming year, a key priority for Farm Fresh will be to make the most of its McCain distribution rights, which it secured last year. The firm will also be promoting a new line of beef products, to be launched in the next few months.
“Farm Fresh has been a dominant player in the market on proteins, whether it’s poultry, lamb, beef, from various origins. A new segment is the certified Angus beef programme, which is going to be launched in the first half of 2015,” Lopez said.
Looking ahead, he said Farm Fresh was planning to enter additional GCC markets, but there was no firm timetable for this: “As a strategic plan, yes, we are looking beyond the UAE. Ideally, we would look to expand into Qatar and Saudi Arabia. I don’t have an exact idea when it’s going to happen, but yes, it is on the plan.”