Oh So Healthy (OSH) is a healthy snack company based in the Philippines producing fruit crisps. Pacquiao 3-in-1 Coffee is a brand co-owned and developed by Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao which launched in the Philippines only in April this year.
SandBox hopes to launch these into UAE supermarkets and health stores by June and July respectively.
For OSH and Pacquiao 3-in-1 Coffee, SandBox is supporting manufacturers with halal certification and relabeling works including translation into Arabic.
Pacquiao himself worked on the product development process and the manufacturer to produce his coffee. The coffee is fortified with moringa extract (malunggay), which is rich in antioxidants.
“We hope to capitalise on the wellness trend, and at the same time, expand our reach to a wider audience beyond the overseas Filipino workers,” said SandBox CEO Lito German.
There are talks of Manny Pacquiao fighting Mikey Garcia in UAE this July, which may help boost brand awareness of the coffee in the region.
Pacquiao 3-in-1 coffee is currently manufactured in the Philippines, and SandBox is working with the manufacturer to dedicate a production line comprising filling, packaging and labelling to cater demand in the GCC market.
“We are working closely with the manufacturer on a dedicated line to ensure that we have a constant supply,” German told FoodNavigator-Asia.
SandBox is also the exclusive distributor for other Filipino brands including Delimondo (corned beef) and Arce Dairy (ice cream).
Its distribution network spans the GCC region as well as selected territories across Europe.
Currently, most of the products it imports and distributes are from the Philippines because of its existing connections.
Channel spread in UAE
SandBox spreads its products over four channels in the UAE, serving more than 300 establishments.
Its biggest channel is the mom-and-pop stores that are located on the ground floor of many residential buildings. This channel makes up more than 50% of its business.
According to German, its presence in this channel is a unique selling proposition for brands., by raising awareness, only requiring small volumes, but re-ordering frequently.
Its second largest channel is through the major supermarket chains in UAE, which make up about 30% of its business.
The food service channel makes up 15% and e-commerce, including Amazon, Talabat and Noon, makes up 3%.
German said the e-commerce channel was only just starting to pick up, having been accelerated by the pandemic, with the initial reception to Filipino brands proving positive.
Delimondo became the number one bestselling new item in the first hour of trading on Amazon in February, and is now ranked within the top 10 best-selling food and grocery item on the site.
German said its primary consumers were the large Filipino expat community based in the UAE, followed by South Asians such as Indians and Pakistanis.
The Western expats especially from UK were a secondary target group.
German told us the Middle East region presents a unique proposition when it comes to importing food products.
For one, halal certification is necessary. In addition, there are relatively high excise taxes on sugar.
The packaging also had to fit into the local culture here which includes translation into Arabic.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions in the Philippines and production hiccups, Sandbox still forecast gross revenue of US$10.2 million in 2021.
“This will come from the total sales of all product lines across our GCC markets,” German said.
Despite the recent Suez Canal blockage, German said there was no impact on its supply chain.
SandBox is now in talks with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to introduce the four Filipino food brands into those markets soon.
It is also in discussion with brands from other markets, and is hopeful to introduce sauces from US, fruits from Egypt and coffee from South East Asia to the GCC consumers.