CEO interview: UAE’s Global Food Industries and International Beverage and Filling Industries sets five-year-plan to double food and beverage portfolio
GFI is the manufacturer of frozen food brands Al Areesh and Arctic Gold, and snacking brands such as Glen’da and Amara. IBFI is a producer of Star carbonated beverages and juices.
CEO of GFI, Ahmed Bayoumi told FoodNavigator-Asia, the five-year-plan consists of three pillars.
“Firstly, we hope to relaunch our brands in the domestic market of UAE where we see significant growth opportunity.”
The relaunch will include a revamp of products, packaging and portfolio.
“Secondly, we are looking into geographic expansion within the GCC. Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait are very appealing markets to us.”
The Saudi Arabian market is particularly enticing to GFI and IBFI for its huge potential. GFI’s current presence there is minimal.
Bayoumi said the firms are working with a company within Albatha Group that specialises in distribution to scale up its presence in Saudi Arabia’s supermarkets, hypermarkets and food service sectors.
In addition to the GCC nations, GFI and IBFI is eyeing Egypt as a potential market, for its sizeable packaged foods market.
“Thirdly, we hope to accelerate innovation and launch new products and categories over the next five years.”
One of the latest products launched is a biscuit offering containing wheat and fibre, suitable for a healthy breakfast.
Launched under GFI’s glen’da Branville line, it comes in bran and cardamom flavours, and retails in UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Mustafa Saeed, head of marketing and innovations for snacking and beverages, said: “In today’s fast-paced and busy work schedules, glen’da Branville offers an easy and convenient way for people to never have to skip breakfast.”
“It is always ready-to-go, affordable and in a packaging that contains a healthy portion to meet the busy young and adult consumers’ breakfast needs.”
glen’da Branville is the fifth product under the glen’da lineup consisting of digestive, creamy delight, kookie and choco krunch biscuits.
The glen’da brand of snacks are manufactured in the UAE by GFI, and is halal certified.
Headed by Bayoumi, the new leadership team formed to steer the growth of GFI and IBFI includes chief financial officer Fawad Hayee, sales director Haytham El Bendary, head of marketing and innovations (Frozen) Tina Siegismund, head of supply chain Mahmoud Fouda, head of quality Parvin Banu, head of HR Hasan Rashed and Mustafa Saeed.
Bayoumi took over as CEO of GFI in February 2020, just before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
To ensure a stable production during COVID-19, Bayoumi said the companies increased its inventory of critical raw materials “to ensure that we don't run out of supply and meet the request of the UAE government to ensure food security.”
The companies also took precautions for employees in terms of remote working, segregating workers, and contract tracing to ensure health and safety.
“We are very proud that our whole workforce is safe and sound, happily working productively without any either serious injury, sickness or fatalities,” Bayoumi emphasised.
Under his leadership, GFI and IBFI’s retail business has grown double digits in UAE, helping offset the drop in HORECA which was severely affected by COVID-19.
Last year, its frozen food business managed to grow single digit, while snack and beverage business were maintained from previous year.
“People were spending more time at home, so frozen foods consumption has increased. Whereas for impulse products like beverages and snacks, a big chunk is consumed out of home, so it was a challenge to grow those businesses during the COVID-19 situation,” Bayoumi said.
This year, the firms are targeting double digit growth across all three categories.