Arabian Food Corporation, a member of A. Raouf Abuzinadah Group, is one of the major importers and wholesalers of frozen, chilled, and dry fine food products in Saudi Arabia. The company started its operations three decades ago to become one of the market leaders. Always innovating and advancing, HN spoke to Ahmed Houri, business development manager at the company, to highlight their story, growth plan, and new services.
Tell us more about Arabian Food Corporation and what distinguishes you?
Arabian Food Corporation (AFC) was set up in 1990 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Initially, the business was just in proteins. Since 1990, the company has grown to one of the biggest and reputable food distributors in the Kingdom. We currently have three branches in Jeddah, Riyadh, and Khobar. From these, we are delivering to over 16 cities in Saudi Arabia. We have grown from a small distributor to one of the strongest key players in the business we’re in. We currently have over 500 clients and over 600 SKU’s. What makes us different is the team effort, hard work, honesty, and long-term relationships we strive to establish and maintain with our customers. When a client works with AFC, they quickly understand that we have their success in mind and we always strive to maintain the best service, quality ingredients, and offer the best possible prices that we can. We have customers that have been working with us since the mid 90’s and we are happy that our reputation with clients and vendors is solid.
What makes you excel in your business?
We always look to improve. Whether it’s in service, product range, or any other aspect in our company, we are always pushing to do better. Time and time again, we hear from customers that they are happy in dealing with us. This trust takes a lot of time to build over the years and it makes us happy to establish long-term relationships with clients in Saudi Arabia. One of the biggest assets we have in the company is being genuine and honest with our clients. We serve them to the best of our ability and we always have their interest in mind. We understand that their success and growth is what makes us grow as well.
How do you summarize your B2C operations?
AFC started B2C operations on April 1st, 2020. We were mainly focused on B2B for the past 30 years. Having done our research for the retail market, we decided to create our own app, AFC GOURMET, and deliver to clients directly. We were the first food distributor in Saudi Arabia to launch such an app. It was a major hit and we couldn’t have imagined the reaction. We’ve had multiple famous food bloggers post about us and we now have users registered in the thousands. AFC GOURMET was our solution to be able to offer B2C better prices, bigger range, and a convenient home delivery service. A lot of the B2C clients are happy with our app because it offers a big range of food ingredients currently not available in any supermarket. This means that customers at home can now use the same ingredients the finest Hotels and Restaurants use. In addition, since we’re delivering directly, we are offering pricing that is much more competitive than what some of the retails are offering. Customers get quality ingredients at better pricing delivered to their house, and everyone is happy.
How do you best describe the Saudi market?
The Saudi market, in my opinion, is one of the most interesting F&B markets in the world. It is always aggressive with new food trends and innovative food creations. In addition, we are very happy to see how fast Saudi clients have gained food knowledge. It’s always a motivating drive to offer quality ingredients to Saudi clients and chefs that appreciate this quality and are pushing distributors like us to get a bigger range, have more understanding in food trends, and be able to keep up with the Saudi market’s aggressive demand and trends. We are happy to work in a market that appreciates food quality and is always striving to create something new and better.
What challenges did you face?
Just like with any business, there are a lot of challenges. We welcome challenges and see them as building blocks in learning to get better at what we do. We keep pushing forward and learn one step at a time. Having the right mentality helps us push forward and always get better.
How did COVID-19 impact your business?
COVID-19 impacted our business very hard, just like everyone else. The food service industry was hit the hardest and our clients in hotels and restaurants suffered the most. Even though everybody was impacted on a global level, you need learn to innovate and move forward. We pushed harder to launch our app AFC GOURMET when COVID-19 started and it helped us to tap into a new market that we previously did not have. The application was launched at the perfect time where most people were ordering food to their homes. The app couldn’t have been launched at a better time and we are very happy to have been able to deliver food ingredients to clients that were unable to go out and buy their own during quarantine. In addition, we have taken many precautions to ensure the safety of our employees and the safety of our clients. COVID-19 has impacted businesses around the world and we are no different. It’s a matter of time until it’s resolved and we will come back stronger once it’s over.
What are the new opportunities you are seeking?
We are getting into different product ranges to add to our portfolio. In addition, we are reaching cities that we did not deliver to before. By adding to our product portfolio and expanding our delivery services, we are ensuring that we are always growing and innovating in what we do. By listening to our customers, learning about food trends, and conducting research, we always strive to push forward and get better.
Where do you see your business in five years?
The plan for Arabian Food Corporation is to become a multinational corporation. We have in mind several markets that we are planning to get into at the right time. We will take the same attitude of trust, genuine customer care, and innovation to other markets and build new long-term relationships with customers that appreciate quality ingredients and a quality service. We hope to always keep moving forward and getting better. Our dreams and goals are never too large to become reality, but one thing for sure is wherever we go and whatever we do, we will continue building genuine and trusted customer relationships.