Carabao ice cream: Filipino brand Arce Dairy to expand distribution in Saudi Arabia following UAE launch

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Its ice cream come in traditional Filipino flavours such as macapuno, atis, avocado, ube and durian ©Arce Dairy Facebook
Its ice cream come in traditional Filipino flavours such as macapuno, atis, avocado, ube and durian ©Arce Dairy Facebook

Related tags Ice cream Philippines Uae Saudi arabia

Philippines' carabao ice cream brand Arce Dairy has made its debut in the Middle East with a recent launch in the UAE, and now harbours plans to enter Saudi Arabia and other GCC markets next year.

Brought in by SandBox, the exclusive distributor of Arce Dairy in the GCC region, the brand first made its debut in UAE at the Philippine Pavilion at Expo 2020, before subsequently retailing at supermarkets and groceries across the Emirates, such as Westzone, Choitrams, Al Maya, New Era, and Metro Manila Supermarket.

SandBox is now working with Filipino restaurants in UAE to expand distribution of Arce Dairy’s traditional flavours.

Arce Dairy’s ice cream is made from fresh carabao’s milk. Carabao is a water buffalo native to the Philippines. The milk from carabaos is said to be higher in protein, calcium, iron, phosphorous while lower in cholesterol, compared to cow’s milk. Carabao milk also provides a creamier mouthfeel to the ice cream.

Its ice cream come in traditional Filipino flavours such as macapuno, atis, avocado, ube and durian, with other universal flavours including queso real (cheese), mango, and mandarin orange.

We recognise the huge potential for Arce Dairy in the region, not only because of the strong following it garners among the Filipino community, but also because of its global appeal due to its quality and superior taste​,” Lito German, SandBox’s CEO told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Our presence at the Philippine Pavilion of the Expo 2020 certainly delivered a huge boost in terms of awareness among the Filipino community here. It also provided foreign nationals the opportunity to try our unique ice cream flavours made from carabao’s milk for the first time,”​ he said.

Moving forward, events and online will form its marketing strategy: “We are planning multiple events across the Emirates to generate further awareness and appreciation for Arce Dairy in the UAE, such as pop-up ice cream days, fun ‘halo-halo’ making seminars (halo-halo is a Filipino delicacy served with ice cream topping), and so on. We’ve also launched a social media campaign with influencers and food bloggers here,” ​German added.

GCC expansion

SandBox plans to distribute Arce Dairy in Saudi Arabia by Q1 2022, and other GCC markets will follow in Q2.

In these markets, the market strategy will be similar to UAE’s: “We’ll start with attracting the significant number of Filipinos in these markets as our loyalty base. Then we’ll expand with a conquest strategy to reach out to other nationalities such as South Asians, Arabs, and Western expats,”​ German said.

Ice cream products will continue to be manufactured in the Philippines, where it has been produced since 1935.

Besides Arce Dairy, SandBox is also the exclusive distributor for other Filipino brands​ including Manny Pacquiao’s coffee brand Pacquiao 3-in-1 coffee, corned beef firm Delimondo, and healthy snack company Oh So Healthy.

SandBox distributes all four brands across mom-and-pop stores, supermarkets, food service and e-commerce channels in UAE, and forecasts gross revenue of US$10.2 million in 2021.

There are plans to bring in other brands in the condiments, fruits and coffee industry.

Beyond distributing products, SandBox is working on another offering: “We are expanding our product range to start offering bills payment facilities for Filipino overseas workers, to enable them to directly pay for their utilities back home over the counter at selected supermarkets. It’s an exciting development and we’re eager to make more detailed announcements soon,” ​German said.

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