F&B - Home Feel
Adding that extra touch... Dubai's F&B businesses seem to be hitting a sweet spot by delivering a 'home-cooked experience'. Image Credit: Antonin Kelian-Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: Finding less time to cook that favourite dish? Let a restaurant or F&B business do that for you…

And in Dubai, that’s just what is happening as F&B brands provide the taste of “home cooked” food delivered to your door.

“We’ve just launched our e-commerce site - Abela Online - for the purpose of providing homey food to those who crave it,” said Nassim Basma, Senior Production Manager. “The platform allows for the delivery home-cooked meals straight to the customer. We can deliver a lunch or dinner order for a day… or week.”

The frozen food range customers have to heat up include dishes like Kebbeh Bil Sanieh, Daoud Basha meatballs and Chicken Mouloukieh. These are typically dishes synonymous with cooking at home rather than what you would  expect at a restaurant.

“Our prices are well thought out, ensuring that for a spend of Dh100, you’ll be able to fill up your entire online basket without emptying your wallet,” Basma said. A typical dish offering 600g of food costs an average Dh30 to Dh35.

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Sign of the times

An employee puts in between 40 to 45 hours a week at the workplace (on in work-from-home routines). With another 10 hours a week going into the commuting, it’s easy to avoid spending time in the kitchen.

“These days I find it impossible to make time to cook,” Selena Matthews, a Dubai resident said. “And I don’t want to be that person that spends all of their money on eating out. It all adds up.”

F&B businesses now pushing the home-cooked concept is thus aiming to hit the sweet spots on the pricing, and thus convincing potential customers that ordering in wouldn’t be a drain on income.

That comfort factor

“Because the UAE has a [sizeable] expat community, there is always a demand for home-cooked meals,” said Dima Sharif, founder of Mooneh Foodstuff. “Home-cooked meals offer the comfort of home and make it feel slightly closer. A home-cooked meal allows people to serve food made to their preference while omitting the parts or ingredients they do not wish to have. The control aspect is huge.”

Mooneh
One of Mooneh's healthy offerings.

On the customer base, Sharif explained that it is not so much a demographic, rather a psychographic that they cater to. “People that order from Mooneh are health-conscious, prefer natural ingredients and geared to support local because they know that we work directly with local farmers.”

Generally, commercially prepared foods tend to be higher in fat, salt, sugar and processed ingredients. The ‘home-food’ strategy for F&B companies is to try and prepare it with as little extra ingredients as possible and focus more on what a customer would cook in their home.

Essentially, a category of foods rarely found at restaurants is higher quality versions of rice and vegetables, scrambled eggs, pot roasts and meals your mother would make.

These companies are filling those gaps and many more could join the mix.

F&B - Home Feel
Right-sizing... Pricing will be central to how far F&B businesses can push ahead with their home-cooked concepts. Image Credit: Antonin Kelian-Kallouche/Gulf News

Go diverse

“The food we produce does not focus on a particular cuisine or item but rather on a diverse nationality mix the UAE offers,” said Basma. “We serve an average of 45 million meals each year and the sales mix of different types of food products tells us that consumers are opening up to trying different cuisines.

“We have seen a Middle Eastern Kibbeh, an Indian butter chicken and an Australian chicken and mushroom pie all being ordered - by the same household.”

After all, there's never an accounting of tastes...