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Healthy snacks: Let's bite the bullet

Healthy snacks: Lets bite the bullet
by

Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Mon 3 Apr 2017, 9:53 PM

Last updated: Tue 4 Apr 2017, 12:10 AM

All of us like to munch and one man has actually made that into his business by launching munchbox. Mahmoud Adham, founder, munchbox, - Egyptian/Belgian national - who relocated to Dubai from Belgium for two months and noticed a weight gain of 6kg in that period. This made him so conscious that it became the need of the hour to come up with something that kept him snacking and yet controlled those bulging calories.

"I am very careful with my meals, but it's the snacking at my desk that was the culprit. After shedding the weight with a lot of sweat and tears, I had a "never again" moment, so I started preparing my own snacks and taking them to the office. Realising that it was too much of a hassle, I looked for a company that only delivers snacks, and to my surprise there were none! So I sold my house, gathered my life savings and started munchbox in August 2014," said Adham, who is a mechanical engineer.
In just about two and half years, munchbox has grown from a one man company to a 14 person team, present in 255 outlets across the UAE and 50 more outlets in Qatar. This is in addition to its long list of corporate customers and online clients. Adham said: "The problem we are solving is that of busy health conscious professionals who work long hours and cannot spare the time or effort to cater for their healthy snacking needs."
The startup capital for the firm was initially raised from Adham's life savings and contributions from friends and family. "We had a series A equity fund raise of $300,000 last May and are targeting another round late this year to support our regional expansion plans. Our investors are Prime Venture Partners," said Adham who worked for Procter & Gamble in Egypt, Nigeria, and Belgium for 11 years as a regional engineering manager and then joined a multinational confectionary manufacturer in Dubai for three years managing engineering and production.
"The problem munchbox solves for the people of the GCC is one that we all struggle with: weight loss. The Mena market is 381 million people, 50 per cent of which are trying to lose weight. 68 pr cent of them are doing so by changing their diet. Many companies out there are tackling the three meals, but very few are helping solve the potentially bigger snacking challenges we all face. These facts, combined with the passion, the many years of blue chip experience we saw in the team and the uniqueness of the product, made it an immediate winner. Aside from the hard numbers, on which munchbox has delivered, one thing we are particularly proud of is that munchbox is a Dubai born and made brand. It is very rare that we find a locally developed and made FMCG brand that is going regional with zero support from abroad. Especially in the startup arena. The investment committee of prime venture partners is very excited about the new unique line up of healthy snacks that munchbox is launching in the region, and the supply base capabilities that the team is working on. 2017 will be the munchbox year," said Prime Venture Partners - Munchbox investor - in a statement issued to Khaleej Times.
Munchbox does boast of being the only company specialising in healthy snacks online delivery in the region. The company recently launched a new line of protein pebbles and energy balls and the research and development team is continuously working on a mouth watering line up of healthy munchies to be released over the course of the year.
"On the retail front we have signed up a few major players in the convenience store arena which will boost our presence on the shelf across the UAE. As for regional expansion, we will be in Saudi and Bahrain in the third quarter of this year, and the rest of the GCC early next year. As for the UAE market, we are extremely optimistic. Next to our retail business channel, We have solid plans to develop our corporate presence as well as our rapidly growing online delivery services," concludes Adham.
Equally optimistic Fouad Bounasr one of the first employee of munchbox, who joined the firm in the end of 2015. "It was an exciting prospect for me, seeing a huge potential and scalability in this business. Having packed a few years of sales experience at one of the top global FMCG companies, I was determined to join Mahmoud to make munchbox a regional success story.To me, Munchbox is more than a product or a brand; It is a unique snacking concept. We are solving a problem for consumers - we aim to improve people's eating habits through providing them with the needed nutrition & energy levels throughout the day, in the most convenient way possible. We started purely as an online subscription model in 2014 and have expanded into the retail and HORECA sector (Horeca is an abbreviation used in Europe for the sector of the food industry that consists of establishments which prepare and serve food and beverages), after receiving a high demand from outlets to stock our products. We are now available across hundreds of retail locations in the UAE and Qatar."
Bousnar further informs that the firm managed to open five routes to market successfully in a period of few months and now plan to roll out the same model across the region as they are currently in talks with major food distributors. "People do want healthy snacks; with society in large becoming more health conscious, the business of healthy snacking is booming in the UAE. Yet, it is also important to provide exciting new snacks for people to munch on. Sitting on your office all day long, you want to snack on something which will elevate your energy levels and keep your tastebuds on their toes if so to speak. Our R&D team is currently focusing on coming up with new snacks exclusively for munchbox," adds Bousnar.
The company has witnessed a 300 per cent growth in retail sales between 2015 and 2016 and projects double digit growth ongoingly for the next five years. - sandhya@khaleejtimes.com




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