Pandemic proof: UAE healthy ice cream brand House of Pops taps on extensive channel reach for positive growth

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

When the company launched three years ago, events such as food festivals were its primary sales channel, but it has since expanded to online delivery platforms, retail kiosks, schools, and HORECA and trade. ©House of Pops
When the company launched three years ago, events such as food festivals were its primary sales channel, but it has since expanded to online delivery platforms, retail kiosks, schools, and HORECA and trade. ©House of Pops

Related tags: Uae, Ice cream

UAE healthy ice cream company House of Pops is anticipating a 250% increase in sales this year amid the pandemic, citing its commitment to driving sales across five channels as a key differentiator.

The company was founded in September 2018 after the founders saw a gap in the market for healthy ice cream.

House of Pops currently has four range of products, the basic fruit ice cream pops (happiness range), ice cream pops with solid fruit pieces (royal range), fruit ice cream pops with a chocolate coating (chocolate dip), and a keto range.

When the company launched three years ago, events such as food festivals were its primary sales channel, but it has since expanded to online delivery platforms, retail kiosks, schools, and HORECA and trade.

In the trade and HORECA channel, the company distributes to gyms, juice bars, hotels, cafes and restaurants.

According to co-founder Marcela Sancho, sales grew 400% in its second year of business, and it anticipates a 250% increase this year amid the pandemic.

Our product proved to be pandemic proof. We were very worried when the lockdown happened, events were cancelled and there were no tourists​.

Despite this, our online sales grew 10-fold, making up for any drop in other channels​.”

Now as the country opens up, online sales have dipped slightly, but its retail and HORECA channels are starting to grow.

The good thing about our product is that we can reach people in all scenarios, whether they are at home, on the beach, at a hotel, at school, or birthday events​.”

House of Pops is the only ice cream brand approved in school canteens in Dubai for its natural and healthier proposition.

Health and wellness trend

Sancho said it was a gap in the market for healthy ice cream that inspired her to launch the brand.

The health and wellness trend was rising worldwide, so was the UAE. This could be seen in the protein bars and snack sector, where products were enriched with fibers, vitamins and other nutrients​.

However, the ice cream scene was relatively unchanged. Ice cream brands in the market contained lots of artificial flavours, sweeteners and stabilisers, so we saw an opportunity here in UAE​.”

Sancho cited Nielsen’s Global Health and Wellness Survey on the UAE market in 2015, which found 83% of people were willing to pay more for foods with healthy attributes, with 53% and 52% voting fibre and fruits as healthy ingredients respectively.

Its products are clean label and use only five ingredients. For example, the mango ice cream pop is made of natural mango, water, organic agave, natural vegetable fibres and natural lime juice.

Sancho explained that using organic agave instead of refined sugars helped better regulate blood glucose levels.

Our fruit percentage in the products can go up to 94% and start from 40 calories per ice cream pop. They are also rich in fibres for your digestive health​.”

The products are also vegan and dairy-free, and the firm is planning to launch a protein-enriched range of ice cream pops in Q3 this year.

International expansion

The firm operates a franchise model for its retail kiosks, which it recently expanded into Bahrain. It has plans to enter other GCC countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It is also in discussions with some European markets to franchise the concept.

There is a lot of interest in our product and concept because everyone sees an opportunity in the health and wellness space​,” Sancho said.

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