Mohammad A Baker, Deputy Chairman and CEO, GMG Image Credit: Supplied

What does Farm Fresh’s newly launched brand identity mean for the company?

Farm Fresh has been an anchor in GMG’s portfolio since its conception in 1977, and its rebranding and relaunch has spearheaded our very exciting journey on our Farm to Fork vision.

The new Farm Fresh brand identity can more adequately reflect our vision now. It is not just about delivering delicious and nutritious food; it’s also about enhancing the overall experience of cooking and dining.

By combining the Farm Fresh brand philosophy of delivering ‘Simple Happiness Everyday’ with comprehensive market analysis and customer research, we have developed an innovative approach to the food industry that sets us apart while pursuing our ambitious brand expansion strategy.

To achieve global expansion within the next five years, Farm Fresh is open for international trade and distribution, ensuring that everyone can experience the joy of “Simple Happiness Everyday” in their kitchens.

Image Credit: Supplied

What new products have you launched to cater to changing customer demand after the pandemic?

Post-pandemic trends show that there has been a huge surge in smart gadgets as people evolve their homes with technology to be more connected. This has transformed life in the kitchen, where it has become a space for all, experiencing food and entertainment in a wholly new kitchen set-up.

This trend married to the growth of food-related content on social media channels, means that consumers want access to new, exciting, and more fusion-led foods that are convenient, quick, and simple. Farm Fresh is focused on producing ranges that work with these trends, such as our ready-to-cook products and Zing range have been designed to be cooked in an air fryer, bringing incredible taste, in a healthy and quick format.

Our ready-to-cook line such as our nuggets, burgers, and franks have been developed with incredible taste and top-quality ingredients, and are the perfect snacking companion, as we all continue to live a fast-paced life on the go.

Farm Fresh understands that consumers today are living their best lives, filled with new experiences, social gatherings, and new adventures. This means that their food and cooking rituals need to have great-tasting meals and snacks, that are healthy but also quick and simple to make. Through Farm Fresh, we are trying to address these new consumer needs.

How has the ready-to-cook fresh and frozen food products segment in the UAE evolved in the last decade and where do you see the next growth phase for it in the next few years?

In the last 10 years, the UAE has seen substantial expansion in the ready-to-cook fresh and frozen food sector. The driving forces have been a demand for convenience, shifting customer tastes, and busy lifestyles. The availability and diversity of ready-to-cook options from domestic and foreign brands have increased in the market.

Looking ahead, the increasing emphasis on health and wellness, the availability of superfoods, new ingredients, and global ranges in-store and online, as well as the demand from the UAE’s growing tourist population and expatriates will all contribute to this segment’s next growth phase.

In the coming years, innovation, product variety, and sustainability will be the main development drivers for the market. As a global well-being company, GMG strives to consistently provide consumers with the finest quality products at their preferred shopping destinations.

Moreover, GMG aims to instill a renewed sense of confidence in cooking at home, promoting balanced meals, and encouraging the utilisation of healthier cooking techniques like the air fryer. By offering high-quality products and advocating for healthier cooking methods, GMG endeavors to inspire individuals to take charge of their well-being and make informed choices for a healthier lifestyle.

What new technology have you implemented to update your production and distribution process and enhance food safety standards in your facility?

In March this year, GMG launched four state-of-the-art food manufacturing factories, which are home to brands such as Farm Fresh, Chef’s Choice, Klassic, Sapora, Noor Al Islami, RUH, and Quality 1st Choice, contributing to the country’s national food ambitions while representing the UAE in the global food processing industry. We have four facilities at Dubai Investment Park – one of the UAE’s largest food manufacturing facilities. Our other two factories are in JAFZA, where we process herbs and spices and Himalayan pink salt. We aim to reach international markets across four continents over the next five years and help make the UAE an exporter of value-added food products.

We significantly invested in industry-leading, innovative technologies in these facilities. The manufacturing lines in GMG’s DIP facility are interchangeable and customisable, and are equipped to meet current and future customer demand. These lines have been built using the best-in-class machinery from Europe and the USA, allowing us to envision a more sustainable manufacturing future while leading new initiatives in the global marketplace.

GMG’s herbs and spices factory features a fully automated seeds/ spices cleaning line where they undergo a 5-stage cleaning process, ensuring the final product is 99.9% contaminant free. The factory uses liquid nitrogen at -195 degree Celsius for grinding spices to retain the maximum aroma, setting it apart from competitors.

In addition, another major focus is optimising our supply chains. Our operating model relies on a set of interconnected digital applications and tools flawlessly working together to create a seamless flow of goods from port to warehouse to the store and/or customer. Through our state-of-the-art command centre, we can monitor every step of the journey to ensure consistent service delivery. The integrated planning and logistics platform, smart warehousing solutions, and intelligent contract management system all work together to create a seamless supply chain system that ensures we have products where and when customers need them.

As the head of a leading food-producing brand, what are the main challenges you face and what are your strategies to overcome the same?

One major challenge the industry faces is keeping up with ever-changing customer expectations. We need to understand what our customers want while looking at factors such as what is happening in the economy, what are the new best practices in the industry, and of course, the latest technological advancements and digital trends. Consumer preferences will always change, sometimes faster than we can imagine, so staying ahead and keeping up with consumer demand is essential.

Finally, please share the growth plans for Farm Fresh over the next five years.

Inspired by our farm to fork vision, we plan to continue expanding to create new jobs, build organisational value, and contribute to the national economies of the countries where we operate and improve people’s lives through nutritious food.

In the post-pandemic era, we have observed that consumers are increasingly focused on their health and wellness. This coupled with a wide access to food and cooking-related content on social media, nutritional information, and smart gadgets for the home, will drive growth for Farm Fresh in-store and online.

The rise of the conscious consumer means we are making more considered choices focused on product quality, clean ingredients, and sustainability. As a global well-being company with operations in 12 countries, we are constantly evolving and pushing ourselves in every industry and market in which we operate.

In our Everyday Goods division, we want to increase the number of retail stores, supermarkets, and online platforms with whom we partner and via which we distribute our products. We are looking at innovative ways to improve the accessibility of Farm Fresh products to a larger consumer base both domestically and globally.

Our expansion plan places a strong emphasis on product development and innovation. To generate innovative and exciting services that are in line with shifting consumer expectations, we will keep investing in research and development. As part of our dedication to corporate social responsibility, we intend to actively involve local communities through projects that support education and training programmes and increase food security.