Looking to bake up a treat in the Middle East? - MENA startups, innovation, and tech news

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Looking to bake up a treat in the Middle East?
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Looking to bake up a treat in the Middle East?

Looking to bake up a treat in the Middle East?

  • Get insights into the bakery industry in the Middle East & things one must know to start a bakery business
  • Get special tips from the founder of Indie bakery- CakeUncle & his story

The Middle East places itself in the world of in-between. Location-wise, the region plays Twister with one foot in Asia, a hand in Northern Africa, and a toe in Europe. Hence, the Middle East which includes countries like Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, UAE, and Yemen, among others, is considered transcontinental.

An insight into the baking trends in MEA

While the region sticks to its original tastes and trends, the baking and snack categories are often influenced by outside forces. For example, Europe tends to heavily influence Israel’s trends and innovation, said Einat Peled, who is the business manager of Israel-based Bonjour, a baking company under Osem Group, owned by Nestle SA, Vevey, Switzerland.

At the same time, consumers around the globe target two main attributes: health and convenience. Similar trends apply to the MEA market: a shift into healthier products, mainly in the bread category, along with looking for indulgent treats for occasional consumption.

Baked foods ahead of the game

The bakery industry in the Middle East is maintaining its momentum and will not be losing steam anytime soon. The sector witnesses 5% to 7% growth year on year. The two main drivers are-

  • Increased people who consume bakery products on a daily basis.
  • Urbanization and emerging economies of the region.

The baking market is dynamic like the fast-moving consumer goods world and is subjected to similar changes. The freshness trend is on the rise; consumers prefer fresher bread and pastry products; consumers are switching from supermarket bakeries to specialized bakers.

Innovation is also supporting growth. Popular cooking and baking TV shows have inspired Middle Eastern consumers to create baked foods at home. So, Osem Group introduced a variety of frozen-yeast-based products, including challah bread and chocolate yeast cake, for home baking to cater to the consumer’s craving for freshness and convenience.

Saudi Arabia is the 20th largest market for bakery products in the world, mainly for its bread consumption. In UAE, the most sought-after bread is tandoori, a flatbread made with medium-hard wheat and baked in a shell oven. There has also been an increase in organic ingredients and white and brown bread sales. The MEA bakery ingredients market is estimated at USD 0.99 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to rise at a CAGR of 5.22% to reach USD 1.25 billion by 2026.

Mr. Hamza Nihal, head of business development and research departments, OZCO Group Cos, says that Croissants and regional bread- Egyptian bread or Lebanon’s Shami- show no signs of slowing down due to boundless innovations in this sector. Along with seeking healthier options, consumers do not mind occasional indulgence when it comes to dessert. So, companies like L’usine have introduced a croissant with strawberry and chocolate fillings in a retail pack and is highly popular. 

If you’re a baker planning to start your bakery business in the Mena region, the environment is ripe. Here’s a guide to plan, start and grow your business-

  1. Plan your bakery
  • Select the kind of bakery you would like to open: Online, Counter service, or Specialty service
  • Create a business plan: It will help you define your business, set goals, assess your startup funds, find ways to generate revenue, write down expenses, identify target customers and examine your competition.
  1. Feed the people
  • Try to be the first, the best, or the only one
  • Focus on quality: Taste is the main attribute that people thrive for
  • Focus on your customers, the key to success: Connect with your customers. Ask them for feedback, product suggestion, or talk with them at the counter.
  1. Grow your Bakery
  • Diversify
  • Hire more hands
  • Emphasize on promotions; try new marketing tactics

But the above tips can be easily googled at any point in time, right? How about getting a slice of real-life experience in this business from Mr. Chaitanya Rajput, the man who founded CakeUncle, a successfully running bakery institute and shop, based in Chandigarh, India. My interview with Mr. Rajput will take you through how advice – “make it to the hospitality industry if you want to pull through”- hit the right note for him, how his CakeUncle initially failed to deliver a big firm order and is now looking forward to expanding his booming business, and more.

 

How did you decide to enter the bakery industry?

I started my career ten years ago, in the Retail Sector. However, I had the thirst to do something of my own and I was advised to make it to the hospitality industry if I wanted to pull through. So, I started looking for jobs in hotels. My personality helped me bag a sales job at a hotel and I was really good at it. Then I decided to appear for a walk-in-interview at The Toy Hotel in Chandigarh. Sadly, I was rejected. But I impressed them the second time and I was recruited as the Sales Manager with a salary hike.

My thirst wasn’t quenched yet. Within a few years, in 2017, I opened my bakery- CakeUncle. Initially, we used to purchase cakes from others. There was this one time when we had an order of 200 cakes from a big firm, for its monthly consumption. It was quite a number for us at that time and we could not deliver. That was when I decided to bake cakes with my sister at home and eventually took the small business to a commercial level.

Our bakery products and delivery services have attracted a strong customer base. We have outlets in Chandigarh and Delhi and are planning to launch CakeUncle in Mumbai.

Talk about your bakery institute and how it helps bakers pursue their passion?

I started CakeUncle- The Complete Bakery Institute intending to help people choose bakery as a career choice. We offer a 3-month course at an affordable price. We start with the basics, introducing baking ingredients and precisely those tools and equipment needed for baking, then we move on to a large variety of bread, cookies, and cakes. We also conduct special sessions on grooming, bakery execution and management, guidance on raw material and equipment, legal procedure, and much more. We focus on digital marketing as well to help our students promote their businesses as social media presents the best marketing opportunity.

Our certificate is approved by the Government of India and can be used as a supportive document if planning to go abroad for study or work, or while taking a business loan to open a bakery.

That we offer our students exactly what is needed for them as entrepreneurs to deliver to the customers, sets us apart from other institutes.

How important are certifications to enter the bakery industry?

I always regard products prior to certifications. A baker has to offer his/her best croissant and not the certificate on a plate, to the customer. The baking should do the talking. That is most important.

There are many who are passionate about baking but are wary of starting their own business. How would you motivate such people?

I believe the bakery is an industry that is not going to fade anytime soon. Even in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, the bakery is sure to find its good share of customers. Home baking businesses are gaining more significance than retail shops due to their priority to quality over quantity. This helps to attract customer loyalty.

On the investment side, it is a friendly business. You can start with a small investment and then reinvest in stages, as and how your business grows. In the end, it’s all about your passion for baking and that should be the motivating factor to start your business.

 

Mr. Chaitanya Rajput, Founder – CakeUncle with “The Great Khali” – WWE Champion

 

What tips would you give for a successful bakery?

I do not have any formulas but I believe in a simple recipe to any successful business- passion, commitment, and sociable personality. These are my main pillars of success.

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