Al Rashed is based in Saudi Arabia and has a factory in Dubai where Mecatherm opened an office in September last year.
Indian production for rusks
It is also in negotiations with a firm in India to install a production line for rusks.
Olivier Sergent, president, Mecatherm, told FoodProductionDaily.com the firm celebrated three important achievements this year; the opening of its Dubai office, the start-up of its production line in the region and exhibiting for the first time with live demonstrations of its industrial equipment at Gulfood manufacturing 2014 in Dubai.
The firm also installed three production lines at Switz Group, Dubai, last year, which is a food processor, packer and manufacturer in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent.
“We are here to develop the business so when we got the chance to open a facility here and install a production line at a factory in both Saudi and Dubai we went for it,” he said.
“The Saudi production line started operations last year and the one in Dubai was a few weeks ago.
“Al Rashed recently started two lines to make tinned bread as well as buns approved by McDonald’s and other major chains, so it’s a good partnership for us.
“It’s a company with very loyal people and it has an excellent relationship. The deal is very important for us because it makes it possible to show what we can do and to repeat this kind of operation in other countries.
“We already have a lot of customers in the region but with the start up of this office in Dubai, with this production line and also Switz Group in Dubai we are starting to see some success.
Sergent said the company, which is based in Strasbourg, France, designs, develops, assembles and installs ovens, machines and automated production lines for fresh, frozen, cooked or pre-cooked bread, cakes and pastries.
“We produce industrial bakery lines for food manufacturers. Initially, the company focused on crusty bread and this did well in Europe, Japan, Australia and America. We have been exporting more than 80% of our production for over 30 years now,” he added.
“However within the last six years we have been developing our known-how in other products such as tinned bread and muffins.
“What we are finding now is that we have to adapt to our market and make food that people enjoy locally to expand further.”
Sergent said Mecatherm was one of the few companies making its product live on the show floor to demonstrate its technical expertise.
“We have machinery installed here and we are making trials with our products in the region. We are very happy with the contacts we have made so far,” he said.
The Middle East is booming
“This area is booming that is why we opened an office here covering sales and project management. From here we will focus on South America, India and Africa.
“We are adapting our offering to what people eat in these countries even if that means continuing to promote our crusty bread because we believe consumers will want to eat products not from their own country as long as the quality is good.
“We are expecting a big development in this region and we have a number of partners selling our equipment direct to customers.”
Sergeant said the firm has seen more demand for baguettes in Africa in French-speaking colonies and a rise in crusty bread in big cities where the middle class incomes were on the rise.
“French bread will become popular if we find a way to produce excellent quality products because the reasons for wanting it are there,” he said.
“We see more development in the African cities because the population is growing from 1 to 3 million. It will be difficult to find a skilled baker on a large scale to provide as much quantity as is required and they will need industrial solutions simply to feed the population in the cities.”