Get your freak on: UAE snack brand Freakin’ Healthy kicks off international expansion and outlines portfolio extension
This content item was originally published on www.foodnavigator-asia.com, a William Reed online publication.
First launched in May 2018, its range of clean label, free-from and vegan raw chocolate bars, protein balls and superfood bars are available in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain,
The clean label, vegan and healthy snack brand is also keen to grow its portfolio, with new fruit and nut bars expected to release this month.
It began its international expansion in the US in January, and is first piloting products on e-commerce before distributing nationwide.
This is a change in tack from its Middle East strategy where its products retailed in supermarkets and hypermarkets first.
Founder and CEO Roy E. Koyess said: “The US market is one of the markets that we’ve entered in 2021 with a very specific range that we feel will bring innovation to the already saturated and highly competitive healthy snack category.”
It is retailing seven SKUs in US, including its protein balls and nut butter bites - a four-layer product comprising a biscuit layer, nut butter spread, followed by a layer of dates, and coated with 80% dark chocolate.
“No one's done that in the US, and this is, by far, innovative for us here in the Middle East as well.
“We had to study which products to bring into the US especially for flavour profiles, because something that might work in GCC might not satisfy consumers in US.”
Its protein balls also matched the taste profiles that Americans enjoy such as peanut butter, almond and coconut.
Koyess said US contains around 30% of the world's vegans, and he expects the trend to stay.
With places in Europe like UK and Germany having a large vegan population too, Freakin’ Healthy is in talks with several distributors to expand into Europe later this year.
Other markets of interest are China, Singapore and Qatar.
Freakin’ Healthy first launched with four products comprising superfood bars, and has since grown to 50 SKUs.
Yearly sales for the company grew 300% to 370% over the past three years, and it is again looking to triple the business this year.
“Consumers are getting more health literate, and we've seen that coming really to fruition with COVID-19, added Koyess.
“People have a misconception that all vegan or plant based products are healthy, but it’s not the case. There are vegan snacks out there loaded with preservatives, emulsifiers, colorants which make it unhealthy.”
Last November, it launched a new peanut butter protein ball which has become its top selling item across the Middle East, followed by the hazelnut bites. It will launch four fruit and nut bars this month.
Beyond snacking, the company launched a vegan meal plan (Root’D) in November 2020.
It provides freshly made daily vegan meals, that can be eaten hot or cold, direct to consumers’ doorsteps.
“We want convenience, so we don't want people to have any excuse of needing to cook to be healthily,” Koyess expressed.
All of Freakin’ Healthy’s products are manufactured at its Dubai plant that is a fully certified gluten free facility.
At the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Freakin’ Healthy experienced several supply chain delays.
Sourcing of some of its raw materials and ingredients were disrupted, especially for superfoods that were not grown in UAE.
Koyess said this taught him to source for alternative suppliers across the globe to ensure they have an alternative should they face the same situation again.