Operation: Success

    The Middle East Food magazine conducted an interview with Manhal Naser, CEO of AWJ Investments (Parent-company of Operation Falafel). AWJ Investments is a fast-growing Food & Beverage Holding Group that explores popular Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and International flavors. Nasser will share in this interview his success story on cultivating the Dubai-based brand “Operation: Falafel” into a recognized name across the GCC and global markets. 

    Manhal Naser, CEO, AWJ Investments

    MEF: What can u tell us about Operation Falafel’s concept?
    Manhal Naser: Operation: Falafel is a homegrown casual dining Middle Eastern street food concept that merges authentic taste with twenty first century trends. Traditional recipes including delicious Middle Eastern dishes such as Shawerma, Falafel, Hummus, Foul and Manaeesh are some of the best-selling items at Operation: Falafel. The ambience of the restaurant reflects the style of an open market that showcases the food and its meticulous preparation at the various stations. 

    MEF: Is it appealing to all audiences throughout GCC? 
    Naser: Starting out in Dubai, a metropolitan city that boasts a diversity of people of all nationalities, Operation: Falafel has been able to cater to a wide variety of tastes from across the world. Due to our contemporary atmosphere, easy setting and delicious food offering value for money, we have successfully engaged with and captured audiences not just across the GCC but tourists and expatriates as well. This is because our menu offers something for everyone, whether they are looking for authentic eats, salads or vegetarian items, it’s all there.

    MEF: How has Operation Falafel adapted to the changing F&B market?
    Naser: Knowing our target audience is a major rule in this equation. Ensuring we’re up to date with various technological advances and updating our systems to engage with our target customer, all while reaching out to more people is what we strive to do as a brand, without compromising or losing our value or our taste. Strengthening our delivery network for example is an ongoing process that we keep updating and improving. Enriching our customer service is another. Customer service is a very important factor in the F&B world and helps the brand communicate and understand the customers better. 

    MEF: What are the criteria of creating a successful platform for franchise?
    Naser: A successful franchise platform comes from creating a program that has one main focus – franchisee success. If the franchisee is successful, we are successful as a franchisor and as a brand. This starts with the selection of the right partner. We look for partners that share the same vision, passion and drive that we have for the business and the brand. It’s not just about financials. If our visions are aligned, we are on the path to success.  Additionally, the support is crucial to franchisee success. This is ongoing and should be the top priority for the corporate team. The key to success is constant communication between franchisee and franchisor. There should be a dedicated support team with specialties in their roles. Franchising is about building a brand and growing a network, all while maintaining brand standards and a system. That system is the same system that we have proven in our market to be successful. We are passing this experience and know-how to qualified partners who have the local market experience and knowledge to apply the systems and standards and reap the same success. The most important thing to remember for a successful franchise system is that the franchisee always comes first.

    MEF: What are the challenges of franchising in the MENA region?
    Naser: The MENA region is booming in franchising and F&B. There are a lot of great opportunities when it comes to franchising. The most important element for success, which can also be a challenge, is finding the right partner. Once you have the right partner, you have laid the foundation for your success. As you work with this partner and your work ethic and visions are aligned, you will see that you can accomplish great things together. Choosing the wrong partner or choosing a partner for the wrong reasons can be risky in the end. 

    MEF: Can you tell us about Operation Falafel’s latest franchising plans in GCC?
    Naser: We have been quite busy in the region over the past year, signing agreements for Saudi Arabia and the UAE for a current total of 55 units. We are in the process of rounding out the rest of the GCC countries and Saudi’s Western Region by the end of the year. We have teamed up with some incredible franchise partners with whom we are developing the region. Franchised locations opening in 2017 include Dammam, Riyadh, Ajman and Sharjah.

    MEF: Are you planning to expand Operation Falafel on a global scale? 
    Naser: Absolutely! We knew from day one that Operation: Falafel would be a global brand. It has always been our plan. We are growing responsibly and are focused on expansion, while we maintain a strong core.

    Potato Grader-Halver

    The Heat and Control Grader-Halver can offer a lower cost of ownership through: easy operation, consistent grading and halving, low maintenance, no water consumption required during operation, ease of cleaning and clean operation, hygienic construction – no food trap.
    A common issue facing Potato Chip manufacturers is the variance of the product in its raw form. Potatoes come in all shapes and sizes and while improvements in growing conditions has somewhat resulted in sizing consistency - the gap still exists between the smallest and largest potato in any delivery. Despite this variance it is desirable for the chips in the final packaged product to be consistently sized, not only from one chip to the next but also the ratio between chip and bag size. Take for example the small snack size bag ideal for school lunch boxes. If the raw potatoes were large, by weight the resulting large potato slices will mean the actual number of chips in the pack will be low. While the packet weight is the same as one with ‘smaller’ chips consumers feel they are getting less. A ‘large’ chip is deemed more acceptable in a larger family style pack. Sizing potatoes is not just in the production of potato chips, new products in the convenience foods sector now include portion-controlled potato pieces that have been sized to suit a specific calorie unit of measurement. After recognizing many of customers needed to overcome the problem of size irregularity in potato supply, the engineering department developed the Potato Grader-Halver as the cost effective solution to consistently grade and halve potatoes all in the one machine. The Grader-Halver is designed to grade potatoes according to size and halve the product sorted as larger than the predetermined size. The machine also has the ability to adjust the grading size with ease and at any time during the production process. This feature improves the grading success resulting in final (in bag) product consistency. And most importantly, this process stops chips getting “stuck” in the former of the bagmaker when packaging ‘snack’ size packs. Featuring a full length grading area to prevent small product from ‘skipping’, and then passing through a short grading, as well as an adjustable reject for very small potatoes and foreign objects. The Grader-Halver model has 2 different size options, a 5 lane (throughput of 5000kg per hour) and a 7 lane (throughput of 8000kg per hour).

    The product path
    The Grader-Halver is designed to slot into the processing line after the peelers and before the
    Inspection and Trim Table (Rollers). The system consists of a rugged stainless steel frame, adjustable multiple auger system featuring adjustable phasing, a roller conveyor, and slicing discs to halve larger potatoes. Potatoes are delivered to the infeed of the Grader-Halver from upstream equipment. Adjustable grading augers sort product by size, after which over-sized product passes to a circular knife arrangement for halving. Larger sized product continues along to the grading augers while undersized product falls through. Adjustment can be done during operation giving instant assessment of grading size. Product that falls into the adjustable chute is directed into the FastBack 260E conveyor pan below the Grader-Halver machine and continues along the line. Product sorted as being larger than the maximum set size passes to the roller conveyor which orients the product and transports it to the circular halving knives which then halves the potatoes across the longest dimension. Halved product items fall from the circular knives onto a curved chute that carries them to the FastBack 260E conveyor pan to mix with the previously sorted smaller items to be passed to further downstream equipment for further processing. The Heat and Control Grader-Halver provides consistency of potato grading and halving in a convenient, low maintenance, cost effective system, and is part of the company’s complete potato handling, processing and packaging solutions.

    Serac Innovates and Reduces Environmental Impact Thanks To Blustream®


    Serac confirms its expertise in container treatment based on dry processes with an industrial sterilization solution using ebeam technology. Capable of ensuring a 5 log bacteriological reduction on Bacillus Pumilus without leaving any chemical residue in the container and to eliminate the consumption of chemical agents to decontaminate a bottle, BluStream® is a real technological breakthrough in the aseptic filling of plastic bottles. BluStream® is particularly interesting for manufacturers wishing to highlight: Production processes that respect both human beings and the environment, and brands that follow natural trends and target sensitive consumers (babies, elderly people, allergic people, etc.). Unlike peracetic acid (PAA) and hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂) treatments that rely on chemical principles BluStream® is based on a physical process. It uses an issuer which throws an electron beam over the container’s surface. Electrons quickly destroy micro-organisms by breaking their DNA chains. This enables BluStream® to achieve a 5 log bacteriological reduction on Bacillus Pulumilus with a 1.5 liter bottle in about 5 seconds. Without the use of chemicals, BluStream® ensures that containers are totally free of any toxic residue. BluStream® is a simpler process which makes sterilization easier to monitor. Its process only depends on 3 critical easy to control parameters (voltage, current intensity and exposure time). BluStream® treatment is also more economical in production because it requires no chemicals, no water, no compressed air, and a minimum increase in electrical consumption comparable to the H₂O₂ treatment.

    Ishida Helps Italian Breads Reach A Global Market

    The Ishida CCW-14 head 5 liter model

    The speed and accuracy of an Ishida multihead weigher has helped a leading Italian bakery reach a global market. The Ishida 14-head model with 5 liter hoppers has enabled Oropan S.p.A., based in Altamura, Puglia, to triple production of its range of small breads and rolls, while increasing efficiency rates on the packing line by 5% and reducing rejects due to under- or overweight packs by 20%. The new range of 11 different specialist small breads, including Ciabattine, Rosette, Tartarughe, Kaiser and Filoncini Integrali, are being packed into both bags, which are sold fresh locally and frozen for export, and into thermoformed trays for part-baked items, which are also for both local and international sale. The Ishida weigher incorporates a diverting timing hopper that is able to feed both the bagmaker and the thermoformer. For gentle handling of the product, which avoids any damage to the rolls or excessive crumbing, the weigher features bancollan inserts in the hoppers and a bancollan lining in the discharge chute. In addition, the discharge chute is divided into six sections to help direct the breads into the timing hopper, while a ring gate helps to break their fall. Currently the Ishida system is handling around 2,200 packs every hour but this is well within its capabilities and therefore provides Oropan with the capacity for further growth in the future. The line also includes an Ishida DACS checkweigher for final weight checks. This features lockable and liftable castor wheels to enable it to be moved between the bagging and thermoforming lines as required.

    IPS-INGREDIS: China’s Lead on Global Market Exports of Tomato Paste

    Tomato paste

    Tomatoes are usually processed for paste and the processing line mainly includes five parts: fresh tomato receiving, pre-washing & sorting section; extracting section; concentrating section; pasteurizing or sterilizing section; and the aseptic filling section. It is mainly composed of the following systems: discharge, hydraulic convey, bucket elevating, washing & sorting, crushing, pre-heating, pulping & refining, evaporating & concentrating, sterilizing, and aseptic filling. In this tomato paste processing line, it can be further processed to ketchup, sauces, and juices. Most of the tomatoes are grown in the province of Xinjiang, an ancient, landlocked crossroads on the Silk Road where many of the natives are Kazakhs, Uyghurs, or members of various Muslim ethnic groups. A few years ago, Tunhe went flamboyantly bankrupt and was taken over by a Chinese state-run food conglomerate, Cofco. The point of growing all these tomatoes in Xinjiang—as well as in Inner Mongolia and Gansu province-was not so much to secure vital spaghetti Bolognese resources for China, as it was to create jobs for some of the Han Chinese sent to the region during the heroic age of Chinese communism.
    Based on the manufacturing conditions, the paste can form the basis for ketchup or reconstituted tomato juice production. There are three (3) types of paste - Hot break: heated to about 100 °C (212 °F) - pectin is preserved; paste is thicker and can be used for ketchup. Warm break: heated to about 79 °C (174 °F) - color is not preserved, but flavor is preserved. Cold break: heated to about 66 °C (151 °F) - color and flavor are preserved, so it can be reconstituted into juice. In terms of global trade in tomato paste, China is now the world’s largest exporter having overtaken Italy. It is worth noting that much of Italy’s own increase in tomato paste exports is due to the re-export of paste, previously imported in bulk from China. Up to 25% of China’s tomato paste is exported to Italy and 90% of California’s tomato products are consumed domestically. IPS-Ingredis is a trusted partner for the sourcing and supply of the highest quality of Tomato Paste from China, to fulfill the global demand in multiple industries. 

    New In-Line Blender Improves Consistency

    Tetra pak inline blender

    Tetra Pak has launched a new in-line blender that helps dairy manufacturers improve consistency, ensure product quality and cut costs. At the heart of the new Tetra Pak® In-line Blender D is a sophisticated automation platform that continuously collects data and controls the precision of blending. “Ingredients for formulated products can be expensive. Precision of blending means consistent quality, less ingredient give-away and more cost savings for customers, and that is exactly what this new machine seeks to offer”, said Helen Sellar, Product Manager, Tetra Pak Dairy & Beverage Systems. “Take the typical scenario of milk production with 3.0% fat. The new Tetra Pak In-line Blender D produces at a minimal variation of +/- 0.015 grams per 100 ml, down from the average 0.050 grams in a conventional system. With a production capacity of 20,000 litres per hour, operating 20 hours per day and 350 days per year, that alone means an annual saving of up to USD205,000 for a manufacturer”, explained Sellar. The Tetra Pak In-line Blender D handles the widest range of ingredients in the industry and can be customised to handle a variety of recipes, including flavoured milk, cheese milk, standardized milk for dairy powders, lactic acid drinks, condensed milk and liquid formulated products amongst others. Tetra Pak is the world's well-known food processing and packaging solutions company. Working closely with our customers and suppliers, we provide safe, innovative and environmentally sound products that each day meet the needs of hundreds of millions of people in more than 170 countries.

    Halloumi: The Traditional Cheese of Cyprus

    Halloumi is officially recognized worldwide as a distinctive cheese indigenous to Cyprus. Halloumi is an unripe, semi hard white cheese with a distinctive layered texture, which may well be eaten raw but also cooked, fried or grilled. The name ‘Halloumi’ is derived from the Greek word ‘almi’ – salty water. The name probably linked with the salty brine which accompanies the cheese and adds to its better preservation. The name may also come from the Coptic ‘ialom’. Historical reports dating from the period of Venetian domination in 1554 confirm that halloumi was produced in Cyprus at the time. 

    Halloumi has a unique shape

    Well-known writer, Fiorio Bustron notes in his writings that Cyprus produces, using sheep and goat milk, a cheese that was named “caloumi” in Venetian language which was prepared in March, a period where there is an abundance of best quality, full fat milk. Halloumi was also renowned overseas as described by writer and traveler Richard Pococke in 1738 “they make (halloumi) cheese from goat’s milk, which is famous all over the Levant, and it is the only good cheese to be met in these parts; they are small and thick, much in the shape of ancient weights…”. In those old times, halloumi in brine was an essential part of the people’s diet, especially so in the absence of any refrigeration facilities. 

    For centuries now, Halloumi is being prepared according to a traditional recipe using raw materials and methods of production unique to the country and passed on from generation to generation. The production of halloumi cheese is taking place in modern processing manufacturing units, in Cyprus, that fully comply with the European regulations. Halloumi contains fresh mint leaves, has a unique folded shape, a maximum moisture content of 45 percent, minimum fat of 43 percent in dry matter and 2.7-3 percent salt. It has to be kept refrigerated until it is consumed and can be easily stored for a long time at temperatures under -18° C. Its manifold serving possibilities render Halloumi unique in the world. 

    Halloumi contains fresh mint leaves 

    Whether fresh fried, baked, boiled or grilled, it tastes wonderful every season. Thanks to its mild spiciness, it can be combined with almost anything: it fits to fruit, especially to water melons, grapes, and figs, but also to tomatoes or other vegetables. Because of its ability to not melt or spread during roasting and grilling, it is distinguished from all other cheese. It can be a great accompaniment to many dishes and also as a substitute for meat. 

    Halloumi is registered in the European Union as a “Community Collective Trademark”, and as a Certification Trade Mark in various countries, including United Kingdom, United States of America and Jordan, while efforts are underway for its registration in Russia, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Arab countries. According to the Regulations of the mark, this is applied to products produced only in the Republic of Cyprus using raw materials and methods of production unique to the country; and no other country is allowed its marketing under that name. Should anyone be interested in more information about Halloumi cheese, they are welcome to contact the Trade Centre of the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Beirut, Lebanon.

    Aliet Green First Indonesian SME to Win iTQi Superior Taste Award


    Aliet Green, an Indonesian SME enterprise based near Yogyakarta, Central Java, has won 3 Gold Stars in the Superior Taste contest of iTQi, the International Taste and Quality Institute. Every year, this organization assesses food products from all over the world in a contest with over 480 submitted products. A professional jury, consisting of 150 chefs and sommeliers of international renown. The Kokomel organic and fair trade coconut sugar powder of Aliet Green received exceptional score for texture, taste and overall quality. The award was handed over during a ceremony at the prestigious Royal Cercle Gaulois in Brussels. Yogyakarta/Brussels – Every year, the Brussels based iTQI-International Taste and Quality Institute, receives hundreds of innovative food products that are submitted to an international jury of food professionals. They asses the products on several criteria like vision, smell, taste and texture. Products with an exceptional score are rewarded one, two or three gold stars.
    The Kokomel organic coconut sugar powder of Yogyakarta based Aliet Green obtained three gold stars and a final mark of 90.3 on 100. This innovative and healthy sweetener with a flour-like and velvety mouth-feel is the result of years of product research and development to create a sweetener with a low glycemic index, a broad range of applications in baking, chocolate preparations and drinks and a long shelf life.

    Danaher Revolutionizes Packaging Value Stream

    Videojet V539 ink

    The nature of business is changing rapidly for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies, with the need for digitalization, interconnectivity and automation greater than ever before. Companies preparing to embrace the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 face an unprecedented challenge in terms of implementation, and the options open to them in terms of suppliers are vast. The core objective of these greater levels of interconnectivity is to simplify the packaging value stream, but this can be complicated if companies must then engage an integrator to connect the dots. Danaher has created its Product Identification Platform to eliminate this challenge, giving FMCG brand leaders and their suppliers the flexibility they need to provide far greater responsiveness through their packaging - bringing products to market faster with unprecedented efficiency and quality. Launching a record number of new innovations, the Danaher Product Identification companies, X-Rite Pantone, Esko, Videojet and Laetus came together at Interpack 2017 to demonstrate how, together, they have the ability to extend the limits of what is possible when bringing consumer goods to market. As a platform, simplifying processes through innovation and integration is the focus. These companies are able to look at a business together as a greater value stream – taking a broader view and drilling down into processes to create solutions customers may not have the technical expertise to imagine. With 2017 marking its most significant year for product launches to date, the Product Identification Platform continues to grow its wide ranging capabilities - with each innovation offering significant benefits to both the manufacturer and end consumer.