Paratha push: Al Islami Foods forays into frozen dough category and outlines geographic priorities
The company is known for its frozen chicken, seafood, vegetable, fruits and mostly recently launched a plant-based meat range.
Al Islami’s CEO, Shahid N. Khan told FoodNavigator-Asia: “Al Islami aims to be a kitchen expert, (that means) most of the things that you need to cook should be available from Al Islami.
“We looked at our frozen foods portfolio and realised that we were missing from the frozen dough category, which is a staple or accompanying carbohydrate for many meals eaten in the region.”
Paratha is a popular flatbread in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, eaten at any time of the day for breakfast, snack, or with a main meal.
This marks Al Islami’s foray into the global frozen dough market which is valued at around US$18.6 billion in 2020, according to Market Data Forecast. The market is expected to grow 48% to reach US$27.4 billion by 2025.
“Paratha is the biggest category in the frozen dough market, and we are planning to roll out more products in this segment,” said Khan.
The company debuted the frozen plain paratha in response to the growing demand for convenient, ready-to-cook meals and snacks.
Al Islami’s frozen paratha are easy to heat over the stove and ready to serve in three minutes.
It is available in supermarkets, hypermarkets and 26 e-commerce platforms across UAE.
According to Khan, he plans to expand the range with filled paratha such as cauliflower, radish, and potato, and new products such as frozen chapati, nann, croissants, and eventually pancakes and waffles.
The company has launched more than 11 new products in the last three months, including its first plant-based burger.
It is now developing plant-based minced meat, “this goes as an ingredient for many things like samosa and sandwiches,” Khan said.
Other products include a plant-based meat ball and sausages, with all three products scheduled to launch later this year.
In addition, the company hopes that its plant-based products will be available across GCC including Saudi Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman by the end of the year.
Global expansion plans
The company currently exports its frozen foods to Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Libya, Maldives and Mauritius.
In its market expansion plans, Khan said his first priority was to look for distributors in majority Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
“We are looking for partners who are already distributing frozen foods in those countries to build our brand in the Arab world and in the non-Arab world.”
Its second priority would be to enter countries with a large number of Muslims residing in places like Canada, US, Australia, and Europe.
These are long-term plans, but immediate plans for 2021 was to focus on its home market, UAE, and building its presence across GCC.
Khan told us the recent Suez Canal incident did not affect its supply chain significantly, “Most of the ships were on their way to us, they had already cleared the Suez Canal. There might be a delay of maybe 10 or 12 days, but it's not critical for Ramadan.”
With the upcoming Ramadan holiday, the company has kickstarted a social media campaign on showcase Ramadan recipes and celebrations around the world, as well as started promotions in supermarkets and hypermarkets.
“We are one of the first countries in the UAE to start a Ramadan campaign on social media, based on Ramadan from around the world. It’s about recipes from Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Morocco and different countries and how Ramadan is celebrated around the world.” The campaign will last for 30 days.
The company’s manufacturing facility is located at the Al Hamriyah Free zone in UAE.