HN chatted with Bilal Ballout to highlight the latest trends and challenges in the chocolate industry.
What are the major challenges you are facing and how are you going about overcoming these?
The challenges today come in many different waves. In the past, you could split the demand between clients who were cost conscious and clients who were quality conscious. In today’s environment, chefs are rightfully requesting the correct formula between a customized recipe which is of a high standard and a low price point. To achieve this, it’s no longer possible to purchase commodities from one source because everything, from weather conditions to the political environment, can affect supply and prices. The advantage of Benoit is that the same recipe is sourced from various reliable suppliers around the world to ensure we always achieve stability in both levels. The most important aspect of what Benoit offers is flexibility; the option to customize your chocolate recipe or fillings or cake decorations and in small quantities. This, we believe, is the way forward in today’s economy.
What are the current top trending themes in chocolate?
One of the key innovations we have recently launched is personalized chocolate decorations to be used on cakes and pralines. Through the technology we have implemented in one of our plants, we are able to offer clients a customized, engraved logo on chocolate in an efficient way that has never been done before. Since customization is what every business is looking for today, we believe this will be a big hit throughout the region. We have also developed and launched a new range of innovative chocolate fillings, such as ‘Riz b Haleeb’ and ‘Mistika’. These have been received very well in the market and the range is continuously evolving, even though it has an age-old sense of flavor and familiarity.
In terms of future diversification, what do your plans include?
The brand is already present through partners in the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Lebanon, Kuwait, Spain and Canada. However, our main growth strategy is based on regional expansion, which is why we are considering a presence in Middle Eastern countries offering interesting opportunities in the coming year.
What would you say are your key strengths?
The range and quality of our products are our strengths as a brand. When we look for a partner to distribute our products, we are offering them a diverse range, from chocolates and fillings all the way through to cake mixes and jams. Such diversity is instrumental when considering the possibilities for creation.
What is currently in season and what is in vogue?
The chocolate industry is constantly evolving and trying to pinpoint the next big thing is going to be is quite a tricky proposition, especially since there are many trends that appear out of nowhere and then fade away after being replaced by other trends. Speculoos and red-velvet are examples of such trends. I think it is important to stay tuned to the global market trends and be ready to act on these as quickly as possible.Add to Favorites