Our Products are not only healthier but they also drive sustainability Mazen Kanaan
During the projection period, the ice cream market in the MENA region is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 10.7 percent (2022-2027).
Due to logistical restrictions on transportation and shipping, ice cream sales were negatively affected during COVID-19, which disrupted the supply chain. In addition, market sales were impacted because of a lack of workers, which was essential in manufacturing facilities, and because of the subsequent lockdowns and closures of retail establishments, which disrupted on-premise sales at specialty stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores. Although the sector took big damage because of the epidemic, some firms have forecast that the take-home consumption segment will see a significant increase by the end of 2020.
The Middle Eastern and African frozen dessert sector is primarily made up of private-label and brand-name ice creams. The ice cream industry in the Middle East and Africa grew in 2020 due to the region's unusually hot summer. Retail value sales increased substantially, even as prices kept going up. The ice cream market in Africa is booming thanks to local successes like Paul's Homemade Ice Cream and the presence of multinational players like Baskin-Robbins and Haagen-Dazs.
Demand for high-end ice creams is on the rise, which is one of the main forces propelling the market forward. Having higher quality ingredients and less aeration than conventional ice creams, premium ice creams have grown popular among health-conscious consumers.
Drawing a parallel line on the subject, Mazen Kanaan, Co-founder & CEO of House Of Pops stated, “A partner of mine, Marcela, and I noticed about four or five years ago that there is a need for a healthier, tastier alternative to traditional ice cream. If you go grocery shopping at that time, you will find many different kinds of Keto, Vegan, high-protein, and high-calcium cookies and other snacks on sale. However, when it comes to ice cream, major corporations that specialize in bad flavors continue to hold. Thus, according to his assessment, a window of opportunity presents itself. Given that I served as Unilever's Middle East and Turkey ice cream manager for six years, we will capitalize on my expertise in the field. Now we're putting what we've learned into practice. Then we said, "Hey, why don't we just start our own line," and this is what transpired.”
There are three distinguishing features of House of Pops' offerings. Its output is pristine clean and healthy, long-lasting results. As far as purity goes, then, its wares contain no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, or preservatives of any kind. You won't find any e-numbers or dairy in these products, and they rely solely on plant-based ingredients. So, this is purely in terms of the ingredients. However, the popsicles are not only low in calories (for example, a watermelon popsicle has only 41 calories) but also excellent for you (this is where wellness comes into play). Organic agave from Mexico is used instead of refined sugar since it has a lower glycemic index and is less likely to cause a sudden rise in blood sugar levels. Fibre is beneficial to your digestive tract and heart, both of which are supported by its offerings. Finally, sustainability is at the heart of the way House of Pops does business – the brand is the only ice cream in the region that uses compostable biofilm imported from Italy, instead of plastic wrapping. Promoters wear shirts and shorts made from recycled plastic bottles in stores. To ensure that its products are truly all-natural, the brand places a premium on maintaining its commitment to sustainability.
Vegan fever is catching up in the Middle East
The market for plant-based meat is projected to grow at a CAGR of 1.04% between 2018 and 2027, according to the report "MEA Plant-Based Meat Outlook, 2027" released by Bonafide Research. The rising health consciousness of consumers, the rising number of lactose-intolerant consumers, the rising awareness of the benefits of plant-based proteins, investments and collaborations in the plant-based meat business, and the rising usage of plant-based meats in a wide variety of applications are all contributing to the expansion of the plant-based meat market in the Middle East and Africa. It's also contingent on people's opinions of these foods. Since millennials and Gen Z customers spend so much time "out of home," firms targeting them must adopt advertising and marketing strategies that take advantage of these trends. It is expected that the plant-based growth of meat in the Middle East will be driven by the rising concerns among the people there about the consumption of conventional animal-based food products and the adoption of vegan diets in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak due to rising health awareness. In 2021, the soy protein sector held more than 60% of the market due to the higher protein concentration of soy compared to others. As a result, soy proteins are widely employed as a protein source in the food industry.
South Africa controls a lion's share (23%) of the MEA region's plant-based meat sector. As a result of more product introductions from key manufacturers in the country, its growth is forecast to skyrocket, with a CAGR of 18.24%. Veganism is on the rise as people become more informed about the health risks associated with eating meat. Plant-based meat is expanding for many reasons, including the health benefits of its protein, which are similar to those of meat but contains no cholesterol. We anticipate a rise in demand for meatballs and related snack goods.
Shedding more light on this development, Mazen stated, “There is unquestionably an upward trend, therefore it is expanding. There are two main motivators behind the vegan demands that individuals are willing to give in to the desire to improve one's health through food and the realization that such an approach may produce such improvements when followed. Moreover, from a sustainable standpoint. People who are interested in adopting a vegan diet do so with the animals' well-being in mind; they want all creatures should live peacefully on this planet, and they don't want the animals to be the source of any negative environmental effects. From this vantage point, there are compelling arguments in favor of adopting a plant-based diet for both your health and the health of the entire population. And nearly every company is now attempting to introduce a supplementary vegan line. Objects like Vegan sandals can even be found among the wardrobe options. It's expanding rapidly, and I anticipate even more rapid expansion in the future.”
Apart from connecting sustainability, health, and organic structure, the brand is also using advanced logistical solutions to maintain the temperature of its products. “To keep the product in pristine condition from the time it is manufactured until it is sold, we employ not a novel but the best technology currently accessible. As a bonus, we are the sole owners of all of the components in the supply chain. Therefore, we operate our manufacturing facility, a fleet of delivery vehicles, and cold storage facilities. To avoid making any mistakes from a sustainability point of view, we choose freezers that use environmentally favorable gases, such as 290, which has a very low global warming potential and is now used in our freezer. A lot of capital is needed as compared to dealing with an organic product, but other than that, it's just the standard freezers and trucks,” informed Mazen.
Challenges that are holding the horses
Medium-sized ice cream manufacturers with a filling capacity of up to 18,000 units/hour prioritize reduced raw material prices, simple and dependable operation, product versatility, and low cost of ownership. How can they do this with their current production machinery, and what should they be looking for? Where do they primarily struggle, specifically?
To maximize profit, the ice cream industry is moving in the direction of decreasing the price of its raw materials. However, the use of cheaper raw materials carries with it the possibility of an increase in intolerances, such as the distances between stacked cones. If the production team believes the technical team is to blame for subpar equipment performance, the purchasing team may achieve its goal of low-cost supplies. Investing in tried-and-true processing equipment that can handle variations and defects in raw ingredients and produce consistently high-quality ice cream is the answer.
Highlighting some issues, Mazen said, “With no venture capitalists, angel investors, or other investors backing our business, investments are crucial to our operation. We have taken the lean startup strategy and have put in every penny of our own money up until this point. Therefore, financial plans are necessary for rapid growth. We've created a robust franchise program to address this challenge head-on. Franchisees that buy into our business model will use our established reputation and the quality of the products they sell under our brand to attract new customers and generate revenue for us. They don't have to start from scratch. And on our end, we make the most of the money coming in thanks to the franchising business and use the rest to expand our name recognition. As such, this is where we are, this is the difficulty, and this is where we need to go.”
Food Sustainability is the trending chapter in the Middle East
Since the Middle East and the wider Gulf region face persistent environmental issues, locals must commit to innovation and new ways of thinking. Rapid advances in agriculture technology (AgTech) are inspiring new initiatives to transform the United Arab Emirates (UAE) once 'fruitless' natural occurrences, such as arid terrain, saline soil, and wastewater, into valuable resources. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is setting a tremendously helpful example for other countries by funding environmental initiatives.
“After the epidemic, there has been a dramatic increase in people's interest in the long-term viability of the food supply and the sustainability of food security. The packaging is a big deal for us; I've already said that we're enthusiastic about switching to biodegradable materials for the gas we use in our freezer to improve our environmental impact. We have a contract in place with a business that will come and collect the empty cartons from the factory for recycling. And once again, our employees' outfits are crafted from recycled plastic bottles. Therefore, we take all possible measures to lessen the environmental impact of our products. The United Arab Emirates government is actively working to limit the use of single-use plastics in all areas of society, including the grocery store, the airport, and other public spaces. They have also outlawed the use of plastic straws and airport plastic bags. This is, without a doubt, a major development. In addition, buying from a company that prioritizes ethics and the environment makes consumers feel good,” opined Mazen.
Expectations from the Government
Mazen feels that there is strong backing from the region’s government for the startup sector as they truly realized the potential of this sector. “While the United Arab Emirates (UAE) does provide some funding to entrepreneurs, this assistance is indirect. However, a large portion of the local economy's resources is earmarked for locally-founded ventures. However, this ecosystem provides help to non-native residents, such as making it easy to set up a business. You can find numerous pleasant alternatives to Dubai's high prices and convenient location that offer more cost-effective solutions. Some of the financial constraints associated with obtaining a visa have been lifted, such as the need to make a down payment, and the approval times have been shortened. As for the internet's role in communication and the growth of food enterprises in terms of delivery, infrastructure, etc., these are both greatly facilitated by the existing infrastructure. Start-ups can gain from this because they serve the entire economy. Our co-founder, Marcela, is participating in a program through the American Association in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) designed to help women entrepreneurs succeed. They take classes to learn about the various facets of the industry. Finally, there may be an opportunity for that to happen. We get backing like this, then, from the community. For me, though, the absence of or near-absence of corruption has the greatest effect, as it gives everyone a level playing field. That means I can start a business whenever the mood strikes me, provided I have the financial means to do so. And this is the most crucial aspect, in my opinion, since it assures you that you can accomplish everything you set your mind to. Having a chief on staff or military connections aren't requirements for success in this area. Each person has the same chance at success. You've got incredible potential and you're already really skilled. There is no way to counteract it,” stated Mazen.
Apart from being constantly involved in maintaining smooth workflow, Mazen Likes to play Paddle Tennis which is a new game that started recently. He is an avid reader and his wife and he likes taking trips across the world whenever he can. Those are the main things that occupy his time, and when he needs to truly challenge his brain, he plays chess.