House of Pops touts portfolio extension, bigger market presence and contract manufacturing as key drivers for new stage of growth

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

House of Pops introduced its new gelato range and ice cream bites at the recent Gulfood. ©House of Pops
House of Pops introduced its new gelato range and ice cream bites at the recent Gulfood. ©House of Pops

Related tags Ice cream Middle east frozen desserts

Dubai-based frozen desserts brand House of Pops has identified three key drivers to propel its next stage of growth, namely expansion of product line-up, increasing market presence, and offering of private label services.

In development since last June​, House of Pops’ new gelato range and ice cream bites were introduced at Gulfood, which took place from February 19 to 23 at Dubai World Trade Centre.

“For the first five years [of our business], we focused mostly on popsicles. We’ve had a lot of innovation plans, and now we are ready to showcase them. After trialling the gelatos at Dubai’s famous Ripe Market, we made sure that people like the flavours and that the prices are right, and we have since packaged them to be suitable for supermarket sales.

“We have signed an agreement with a distributor, which is going to increase our presence from 40 locations to 1,000 locations in the UAE alone this year,” ​Mazen Kanaan, CEO and co-founder of House of Pops, told FoodNavigator-Asia​ at the event.

In addition, Kanaan cited three main growth drivers for the company in the next two years.

“The first would be to expand our product ranges and strengthen brand awareness, such as spending more on advertising. Secondly, we want to increase our footprint among the GCC markets as a priority. And that would be through either distribution or franchising contract.

We have already made some good steps, with partners in Bahrain and Kuwait. This year, we’re going to have a physical presence in Saudi Arabica, where the biggest opportunities in the region lies. Thirdly, we are going to use the spare capacity in our factory to manufacture private label products for companies that also want to enter the ice cream space.”

According to Kanaan, the firm is working on three different projects at the moment.

“As our facility is HACCP, ISO 22000, FSSC 22000, and halal certified, as well as allergen-proof, these are attractive for companies who wish to manufacture a clean-label product.”

Fruitful endeavours

Beyond an ice cream producer, House of Pops aims to play an active role in the industry through collaborations and product innovations.

The brand partnered with Lebanese food company Mama Rita​ to launch a range of products with Levantine flavours. It also works with other firms to make its plastic-free packaging, and to use recycled plastic bottles to create uniforms for its promoters.

One of the most significant projects for House of Pops so far is the collaboration with Emirates, where its products are served for business class passengers on selected flights.

“There are more things in the pipeline, though I cannot share all the details now. We consider House of Pops not just an ice cream brand, but a lifestyle. Every now and then, there will be something new coming up. For example, our bites — ice cream coated with single origin chocolate  — are really crunchy.

“Format innovation and expansion is very important for us because we see a trend where consumers want to snack on mini or bite-sized items. Everyone loves a nice ice cream, but we are also targeting people who are conscious of what they eat and who want to snack better,” ​said Kanaan.

At the same time, children is another consumer segment that the brand is looking to win over, largely due to its “five-ingredients-only” formulation.

“Instead of marketing strategies, we just make sure that our product is pure enough to fit in a healthy diet and suitable even for their consumption. There are no preservatives, colouring or allergens, and all our popsicles are plant-based, making them akin to a ‘fruit on a stick’.”

As for healthy snacking trend, Kanaan believes that there is “no way back”, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, where people have become more aware of what they eat and whether they are consuming something that is good for them and the environment as well.

“This is definitely going to grow year on year. We have noticed that in our sales locations, the year on year growth rate is double-digit. These are indications that health and wellness is an ongoing trend, and I foresee it going even stronger in the future.”

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