Hunter Foods is one of the largest snack businesses in the Middle East, manufacturing both premium better-for-you as well as mainstream snacks with a presence that has grown to reach over 60 international markets since it was established in 1985.
According to the firm’s Managing Director Ananya Narayan, its location in the capital of the United Arab Emirates has played a major role in its rapid growth and product portfolio innovation, and he believes this will continue to play an even stronger part for the firm moving forward.
“One of the main drivers for us has been being located in the UAE and specifically Dubai, especially since we started specialising in better-for-you products,” Narayan told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Dubai is well-known to stand for luxury, and even more than that over the past three years it has moved from simply being the gateway to Middle East and Africa to now being the Beverly Hills of the world.
“And this has certainly played a role when it comes to snacking as well – for example, we’ve become one of the biggest snack brands in Japan because I can go there and talk about a premium luxury snack, and when you mention luxury that has been made in Dubai, it just makes sense to consumers there, so being based here has definitely had many advantages.
“The logistics here also play a very important role – this goes beyond just the strategic location of Dubai, but is also due to having Jebel Ali port here which is so important in the whole equation as food is about transportation and making the whole process cost-effective and efficient and fresh.”
Narayan stressed that brands must not undermine the importance of freshness even when it comes to processed packaged foods, as this can make all the difference in terms of taste and quality delivery.
“In snacking, it really is important to remember that the fresher the product is the better even though it is a packaged product – so having efficient logistics can really make all the difference,” he said.
“Dubai also is very advantageous as the best test market in the world, because what other city worldwide has 200 nationalities living in it – and being based here, we get to test it all just in one market.
“This is a great testing bed as if you can make it in Dubai, you can make it in any part of the world because we have consumers here from each part of the world here anyway.”
Charlie and the chips factory
Hunter Foods is also in the process of building a new facility in Dubai, which it aims to position as not just a production plant but also an educational centre of sorts.
“We're trying to build what we call the modern day version of a Charlie and the Chips factory, which is very exciting,” he said.
“It'll not only be a factory, but also an education centre to teach kids and adults about better-for-you and nutrition and how to read labels, overall a fun experience centre.
“This new facility is another step in terms of our dreams and visions, where we hope to grow by more than three times our current size in terms of revenue - we believe the opportunity is certainly there, it is just keeping the focus, having the right people and utilising our location in Dubai, and with all that I think there is little that will be able to stop us.”
Narayan declined to reveal details on the firm’s current revenue, and this is not public information as it is still considered a family-owned business, but according to investment site RocketReach as of 2021 the firm’s revenue stood at US$21mn.