Kasih Foods - seeking growth through shelf-stable hummus.

Kasih Foods - seeking growth through shelf-stable hummus.

Kasih Food Production Co. is eyeing international markets for a new range of shelf-stable hummus, which will be the first product launched under a new Mediterranean foods brand, Mezete.

Jordan-based Kasih Food Production Co. is targeting growing global demand for hummus with a product to be sold in UHT packaging.

Khaled Kasih, the general manager of Kasih Food Production Co., claimed the longer shelf-life of the company's new "all-natural, no-preservative" hummus meant it would stand apart from existing products on the market.

"The global demand for hummus is expected in 2022 to reach US$1.1bn - and it's double-digit growth every year. The reason it's not growing any faster is perishability," Kasih said at the Anuga trade exhibition in the German city of Cologne yesterday (10 October).

"Hummus in the market today has a bad shadow coming from behind in that people don't realise that what is available today is not all-natural. If it's all-natural, [hummus would have] three days shelf-life. If you want to extend it further, [you can use] preservatives and then you lose the all-natural. Nobody is talking about it."

The Mezete hummus has a shelf-life of 18 months and, initially, will be sold in 70g and 1kg packs, targeting customers in channels including the airline industry and the horeca channel. 

The company decided to create a new brand, Mezete, under which to market the shelf-stable hummus and is looking at taking the product internationally.

"The objective of Mezete is to be able to introduce to the global consumer versatile Mediterranean foods that fits the new consumer behaviour, which is on-the-go, something savoury, something different yet healthy, free from preservatives and being all-natural as well. We are going to start with our region - whether it's Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf area, Turkey," Kasih told just-food.

"We had an unbelievable welcome by the top distributors in Europe, who know hummus and the potential of hummus. It's only a matter of time until we finalise the deals after Anuga. The European consumer will start to see Mezete available in their markets in the second half of 2018. The attention and respect we have been getting from really top distributors at this show have been extremely welcoming."

Kasih Food Production Co. markets a range of foods in the Middle East and Europe, generating an annual turnover of $50m. Mr Kasih said he believed sales of the new hummus "within three to five years will hit $100m".

The company is looking to launch other products under the Mezete brand. Kasih suggested the business could look to set up production in Europe as sales of the hummus grows and to support the expansion of the product portfolio.

"It is almost acceptable reality that in 2019 we must have an operation somewhere in Europe. That will save a lot of money in shipping costs, plus we will be closer, which is very advantageous, to the raw material, especially when you want to venture in food, more than in pastes," he said. "When we want to talk Mezete in the future to more processed food, it will become more realistic to have an operation in Europe."

Kasih said he had worked on the development of a hummus to be sold in UHT packaging alongside processing giant Tetra Pak for more than 20 years, describing the project as "a feat of engineering".