Dubai: Molto chocolate-filled croissants, Lambada wafers, Freska bars and Temmy’s cornflakes are just a few of the snacking essentials Egyptians grew up on..
“One of my favourite things to do when I go back is to go to a koshk (a street vendor) to buy some candy,” Samia Khalifa, an Egyptian living in Dubai, said to Gulf News.
These household named confectionaries are produced in Egypt and principally targeted at the domestic market. They tend to take inspiration from US snacks, for example, the Egyptian cookie brand ‘Borio’ is inspired by the Oreo cookie, and the chips brand ‘Days’ is inspired by - you guessed it - Lays.
However, Egyptian companies are also producing their own unique snacks as well, to offer more affordable options rather than the pricey imports. One of the most loved is Molto, a bag of mini stuffed croissants. adored by pretty much the entire population.
No stopping for COVID-19
Molto is so well-loved that it’s owning company Edita was launching new products and flavours during the pandemic with great response and high sales. “We launched one of our newest flavours last year in May,” said an Edita representative at Gulfood. “Although many other countries were at a standstill, we were producing and marketing new snacks.” And the Egyptians cravings for new snacks stayed strong.
When asked whether Edita plans to launch Molto in the UAE, to the dismay of many UAE-based Egyptians, a company spokesperson at Gulfood 2021 gave a firm ‘No’.
It's a niche market
Nevertheless, Egyptians can find some of their favourite candies at select supermarkets in the UAE and snacks like Lambada Wafers and Droo cakes can be purchased at just one store in the UAE - Al Khebra Al Raidah Hypermarket in Sharjah.
Hany El Masary, a partner at the company told Gulf News that they are hoping to expand the range of Egyptian produced goods in the UAE. “We get Egyptians visiting from all over the UAE, so they can get their hands on nostalgia snacks as well as other food,” he said.
Competition in the UAE is plenty
Some Egyptian brands are having trouble penetrating the market. Senyorita Group, the food company that creates Lion, Windows and Days Chips, are struggling to enter the market as the competition in the UAE is already so high.
“I myself grew up eating Lion and Days chips, but the one that is most widespread in Egypt is Windows,” said Nada Mohammed, a representative at Senyorita Group. “We have been trying to enter the UAE market for years, but Lays is such a dominant force here, that it has been really difficult.
“I think the brand that could stand out the most in this market, is Windows, as it is more unique.” (The brand is named after the shape of the chip itself, a square with lines down the middle... basically like a window.)
There are around 400,000 Egyptian expats in the UAE. Most of them live in Dubai, Sharjah and the northern emirates, and only a few are based in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. To give them a feeling of home, there are plenty of Egyptian restaurants, coffee shops (Ahawy) and a multitude of koshari spots. Plus the music and movies.
Egyptians don’t have to look far to find a little bit of home right here in the Gulf.
Now, if only they could have more of their favourite snacks from the past.