Due to current circumstances, Lebanese products and their distribution are playing an increasingly important role in the country’s economy. Against this backdrop, new powerhouse Le Pré is breaking new ground with its premium natural beverages. Here’s what CEO Wissam El Khoury said when HN spoke to him about the brand, its expansion plans, and achievements.
What were you looking to achieve when you launched Le Pre?
Le Pré was created as a result of three different types of demand which are interconnected. The first was to fulfill a social need in the upper Metn region of Lebanon and help meet the demands of the rural economy; local residents
deserve to have the choice of staying in their hometowns all year round, without feeling that they need to move their families to Beirut to find work. The second was about meeting agricultural needs by helping producers in the region to address challenges they’ve been facing for three decades now. The area is known for both the quality and quantity of its fruits; in fact, the upper Metn supplies four percent of Lebanon’s total apple production, and accordingly, the land owners and farmers need to find ways of selling their products. The third relates to tapping into an important market; Lebanese-made premium natural beverages are almost non-existent. We need to align production and distribution with the shift being witnessed in consumption behaviors. Le Pré is an ideal local alternative to international brands for all those people who are looking for a product they can rely on and relate to.
What makes Le Pré special?
Several factors differentiate our products in the market, including their distinctive taste, not only because our apples are grown at a high altitude, but also because they are carefully handpicked and processed using our secret blend. This means the products last longer naturally and without any additives. We are here to provide benefits to the consumers, the supply chain and the environment. Our recycled glass bottles reflect our premium standing and reaffirm how much we care about our planet.
What can you tell us about your production facility and the processes used for making juice and cider vinegar?
In order to respect the identity and panorama of the village, we decided that the 6,000-square meter factory would be built in typical Lebanese architectural style, complete with typical triple arcades and using local stone for the exterior facades. We have brought the latest made-in-Europe machines over to support us in our ambitions, which have enabled us to produce 100 percent natural beverages, free from additives, colorants and stabilizers, for our consumers to enjoy on any occasion.
Where do your fruits come from?
We apply a strict selection process to ensure we source the best quality fruits that are whole-rounded, free from any dents or damage and with the desired nutrients specifications. We pick our suppliers very carefully since we only work with those we are confident can meet the high standards we require. Between 15 and 20 percent of the total quantity needed is sourced from our own land in Jouar El Hoz. The fruits are 100 percent Lebanese, purchased from local growers located mainly in Mount Lebanon, along with others in the North and the Bekaa.
Given the current economic climate, how important is this project for helping the Lebanese population?
The instability that is currently being witnessed in the country has forced the authorities to rethink Lebanon’s positioning with others in the region. As such, they have felt the need to turn to its production capacity and give this more importance, while slowly moving away from the service-led economy, which has traditionally been a dominant player. Accordingly, Le Pré is accompanying the country in its transformation and contributing on many fronts. To start with, all our raw material is purchased in Lebanon, except for the glass bottles and caps, which come from Italy. As a consequence, most of our purchases directly benefit local farmers (fruits), other Lebanese manufacturers (labels and packaging) and local importers (bottles and caps). In terms of consumption, given the quality and great taste of the fruits, and knowing that the factory is located near the orchards, our products make the perfect alternative to international imported brands. When it comes to employment, Le Pré has created direct jobs, while also delivering indirect benefits to the village’s economy.
Where do you see Le Pré in five years’ time and how do you plan to get there?
As well as sustaining our operations by creating the volume needed for the Lebanese market, we have the necessary capacity to expand and play a regional role through exports, which we’re looking forward to doing. We want to establish Le Pré as a premium fruits’ beverage and by-products’ brand in Lebanon and grow the brand internationally with the same integrity and pride. Our plan is to produce trustworthy and transparent products, setting the standards and inspiring individuals, while reassuring them that they are choosing natural, top-