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Monday, May 20, 2024

Changing the food market in the Middle East: Nature’s Own Factory founders kick off a new healthy trend

Reinventing the classics and transforming familiar things into something unique—that’s what the founders of Nature’s Own Factory have been doing since the beginning.

Seda Khunkaeva and Anna Khabarova, best friends and entrepreneurs, offer a new way to be more health-conscious without giving up the pleasure that comes from the food and beverages you enjoy. They have introduced a new healthy trend to the Middle East, and it appears to have the potential to revolutionize the entire food industry in this region.

Seda, Anna, your brand is fairly new to our market. What is your experience of doing business in the Middle East?

Seda Khunkaeva and Anna Khabarova
Seda Khunkaeva and Anna Khabarova

We are impressed by how rapidly countries in the Middle East are developing in a wide range of industries. It’s like everything here is made to run a successful business.

We are still studying the culture and other features of this region to make the best offer for the people who live here. We are grateful to our partners and employees who share their experience with us.

All your products are made from buckwheat. What kind of plant is it? Why did you turn to it?

Tartary buckwheat is a food super-plant. We have discovered its numerous benefits, leading to embrace it as a new and healthy trend worldwide. The seeds are packed with essential nutrients such as vitamins B1 and B2, magnesium, iron, and fiber. It is these seeds that we utilize in the production of our buckwheat tea and other products.

Our journey began with buckwheat tea. The first time we tried this beverage, we were astounded by its unique and delightful taste. We dedicated several months to finding the exact variety that matched our initial encounter. This endeavor proved to be a challenge since the taste and overall quality of the tea depend on the characteristics of the seeds. That’s why all buckwheat teas differ from each other.

We finally located the desired variety at a factory in Taiwan, and we are now the exclusive buyers of the entire buckwheat seed stock from that source. But it’s not just the buckwheat seeds that make our tea unique, it also is how we process them. To create this one-of-a-kind flavour and preserve the maximum nutrients, we clean, granulate and roast the seeds.

What is at the heart of your business?

We would describe our approach as a process of reimagining. In order to create a unique product, we have reimagined classic combinations. Take, for instance, chocolate, which has always been a beloved sweet treat. But with the addition of buckwheat seeds, it has become even tastier and healthier.

What has been the most challenging part of running a business for you so far?

We set a goal to commence production in Dubai within three months, a feat that many doubted we could achieve. However, we proved otherwise. We handled every aspect independently and of course made some mistakes, but the journey provided us with invaluable experiences.

Bringing a completely new product to the market presents another challenge. It is crucial to grasp the needs of the people and effectively communicate the value of your product to them.

Your brand slogan is ‘Natural products with a unique taste’. Unique implies innovative ideas. So what are yours?

We were one of the first companies to produce 20g bean-to-bar chocolate and utilize recyclable material called c/ldpe for packaging. By doing so, we made high-quality chocolate more accessible to retail chains and, most importantly, to people. Now, you can visit your nearest store and experience the feeling of being in an exclusive chocolate boutique that offers the finest quality products.

Our brand’s innovative concepts have garnered recognition from experts in international awards. Our buckwheat white chocolate was the winner at The Anuga Taste Innovation Show, while our packaging for buckwheat chocolate with coconut was named the best at the Gulfood Innovation Awards.

You’ve opened a factory in Dubai less than a year ago, and now your products are presented in major store chains in the Middle East. How have you managed to achieve such an impressive result in a short time?

Being unique, our products sparked the interest of major players in the international market. These industry leaders aspire to provide their customers with extraordinary and novel offerings. As a result, we have established collaborations with Panda, the largest retail chain in Saudi Arabia, boasting over 188 stores across 40 cities. Furthermore, our products can be found in renowned stores such as Carrefour, Geant, All Day, Union Coop, and Sharjah Coop.

Do you think your approach and type of products can influence the food market?

Since our products are both delicious and healthy, we always emphasize that our brand falls somewhere in between. Our buckwheat chocolate competes with both traditional sweets (matching their taste and quality) and chocolates found in the healthy food section (as ours is all-natural, made using bean-to-bar technology). This approach challenges the conventional notions associated with both the healthy food shelf and the traditional sweets shelf in stores.

We firmly believe that our products bring benefits not only to customers, helping them lead healthier lifestyles, but also to sellers. They open up new opportunities for sellers to develop and expand their businesses while staying on-trend. By sharing our unique products with the world, we are pioneering new directions in the sales industry for food projects, hospitality, and supermarket chains. In doing so, these companies are pushing the boundaries of the business forward.

You say that buckwheat is a new healthy trend. What other trends in the food market can you name?

It is undoubtedly a nostalgic sentiment. Recent international studies and projects across various industries affirm the need for nostalgia among consumers.

Companies, particularly those with a rich history, can leverage nostalgia to their advantage by evoking memories of their origins, past products, or classic recipes. By reintroducing flavors from the past, businesses can transport customers to a joyful and cherished time in their lives.

How do you plan to develop your brand in the future? Maybe you plan to grow as a global company?

Certainly, we have plans for international development. We have already participated in several food exhibitions in the US and have observed a keen interest from buyers and the general audience in our products. The size of the healthy food market in the US and Europe is notably larger than in other countries, offering promising opportunities for our growth and development in those regions.

Moreover, we aim to further diversify our product range. One example is our intention to commence the production of buckwheat wafers at our factory in Dubai.

Find Nature’s Own Factory on LinkedIn.

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