The COVID-19 pandemic has levied a significant number of challenges on industries across the world. Pertaining to the pandemic induced lockdowns and other restrictions, companies across the spectrum of food manufacturing—as evidently stated essential—were compelled to reiterate their operational standards and processes.
The pandemic has also indirectly sparked empowerment within certain companies leading them to exhibit their optimum potential in contributing to global economic recovery.
One significant name among such companies is, United Foods Company PJSC, a Muscat based food and beverages manufacturer with 40+ years of undisputed prominence and reputation.
In the following interview, Mr Fethi Khiari, the CEO of the company briefs us about the company’s expertise in the food and beverages niche and also his opinions ono the current and future landscapes of the industry.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our readers about your company, your niche market, and your vision.
United Foods Company PJSC, founded in 1976, is a leading food company in the GCC. And it is one of the first companies to get listed on Dubai stock exchange. It is the GCC pioneering manufacturer, marketer and exporter of branded Ghee, Edible Oils, Butter and Margarine with an expanding consumer base in over 60 countries.
United Foods owns a cutting-edge factory in Jebel Ali. Our flag-ship brand Aseel is a strong market-leader in chosen categories, mainly in the GCC and Levant. It is also the number one Ghee brand in Europe. Other brands like Nawar, Safi, and Mumtaz have been available in B2C and B2B channels for almost four decades.
We work very hard to bring in more quality improvements, innovations, and new categories to our markets. The introduction of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a range of Trans-fat free ghee and margarine variants, Tahina, and a range of premium cooking oils under Aseel brand has set the beginning in the past years. United Foods products are, since 2015, totally trans-fat free, with zero hydrogenation.
Our company’s vision is to be a leading food company in the region offering quality food solutions to our customers while always being guided by our responsibility to society and the environment.
Aseel is our Flagship brand and the leading Ghee brand in the UAE, GCC and Europe. Aseel enjoys over 75% of market shares, due to its outstanding quality.
Being in a leadership position, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the manufacturing industry and the related market within which you conduct business?
The Covid 19 pandemic is undoubtedly changing the world as we knew it. It is changing everything in the life of everyone and every business. We at United Foods Company have been fast to FIRST insulate our workers in urgent and high-cost fashion. We believe that only healthy workers can guarantee the production of healthy goods, for our consumers, threatened by this pandemic. We also tackled very fast our strategic issues of procurement and delivery. We made sure we have high strategic stocks and committed to the market players all their requested volumes. We also launched our E-commerce platform to help our customers and consumers order from their IT tools and get served.
In your opinion, what could be the future of the manufacturing industry post the COVID-19 pandemic?
Sincerely, we have mixed opinions regarding this prospect. Without any shadow of a doubt, our consumers and their health are our guiding priority. If it is true that this kind of pandemic is here to stay, then we shall need to adopt more automations, where we use less workers and more robots. And where we shall need to train more our workers so they can add more quality related values.
As an established busines leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into the manufacturing industry?
My main advice for the young entrepreneurs is that they do their market research well, look for gaps in the market, check latest technologies and understand the consumers. Once they have those elements then starting a manufacturing operation will be made easier. It goes without saying that the first ingredient for their success, will be their level of passion for what they want to do.
How do you envision on sustaining your company’s competency in this ever-cutthroat business ecosystem? Where do you see your company in the next five years?
United Foods Company is celebrating its 45 years this year. In this period of time, UFC moved from being just a ghee producer and exporter, to a more general food producer and distributor, mainly in the Local market. Our objectives for the 5 years to come, is to further strengthen our role in the UAE by producing and marketing a wider range of food products. We do not imagine growing only organically. We are preparing for a major acceleration.