President, Middle East Food Solutions Company (MEFSCO)
CEO, Saadeddin Pastry
YUSUF WAZIRZADA We process corn from which we make glucose, fructose, and starch. These primarily go into food, beverage, confectionary, bakery markets, and other categories. Starch is also used in large quantities by industrial users like paper and carton manufactures. MEFSCO is an extremely critical part of the food supply chain in KSA and the GCC and has a key role to play in food security in the region. It was therefore important to make sure our customers and clients did not experience supply disruptions, which is why we had to look at our supply chains globally. We had to keep the whole manufacturing and accommodation campus and the supply chain safe from COVID-19. There was a wide range of precautionary measures put into place, which are still in place to mitigate the risk.
ALI MOHAMMED SAADEDDIN We sell pastries, special cakes, chocolates, and other similar products. We are looking at three major trends that will take place in five years’ time. First, the entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia will grow, and we must evolve from just selling products to setting up places where people can relax and enjoy. Already, coffee shops, restaurants, and bistros have become big in Saudi Arabia, and new ones are always opening. Second, digitalization is happening in every sector. We have a website and are preparing to launch an app. We are also working with online delivery companies in Saudi Arabia. The third trend is superfoods. In today’s world, people are always following trends when it comes to things like vegan or organic food. It is a niche market so it is important to target it.
YW 1Q2020 started on a strong note, and since then sales have been stable. In early 2021, we are now seeing growth in the market. 2020 was also the first year ever that we did not have a hajj season either, when millions of people come to the Kingdom. During this time schools were also closed. The food service industry also suffered; however, there was a high demand through food delivery applications, as a result we did not see a constant decline but a dip which has now stabilized.
AMS We opened a store with a completely different spin. We are also trying new ideas in the market. For example, we introduced a new type of ice-cream called “Ice-Dream,” which is low in calories. We are living in a world where businesses make decisions about their production based on customer feedback. It is important now to come up with new ideas all the time. People like anything that can be photographed. In some cases, it is not about the food but only about how it looks. Influencers have become highly important for businesses in Saudi Arabia, especially those in our industry.
YW The company’s board members’ expectations and targets for 2021 are inspiring. From a strategy standpoint, we will be working on being seen as the most innovative and reliable supplier of quality starch, sweetener, and co-products. One of the key initiatives in getting to those higher targets is differentiation and innovation. We will focus on new products, some of which we have already launched and are already running trials, and we expect to cross the finish line on these trials in 2021. There is a whole range of things that we are focusing on now besides just being a supplier of ingredients.
AMS For us, our online presence is really important. In recent years, the government has opened the economy for sports and entertainment, and we are doing our best to become a part of this change. Moving forward, we are interested in sponsoring events. We are also moving into production and thinking about becoming a supplier for big pastry shops, pizza shops, or ice-cream parlors. Notably, we have invested in our production facilities and are now able to produce similar cakes on our production lines and supply these companies. We have done the necessary R&D for all the items needed by international companies in Saudi Arabia.
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