Middle East probiotic push: Importer Truebell seeks to expand product offering across region
Early this year, it announced it was increasing its product offering to the UAE, including Japan’s probiotic fermented milk drink, Yakult.
Bhushant Gandhi, divisional manager of retail and food service at Truebell told Nutraingredients-Asia: “In recent years, we have seen the growth of the health and fitness industry in the region and people have definitely become more health conscious. Doctors are even recommending these drinks (Yakult) to top up the good bacteria in our body.
“Within Middle East, there has been a steady growth of the probiotic market in the last five years with greater demand, which has been underscored by the emergence of brands such as Yakult.”
Gandhi said Yakult was present across the GCC region including UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain except Saudi Arabia, but they added it intended to bring the Yakult brand there in the near future.
According to him, the products arrive weekly from Manilla before distributing to the leading retail stores including Carrefour, Lulu, Spinneys, Waitrose and Choithrams.
“Currently, we have regular and low-calorie Yakult in our portfolio, but we are looking to offer more varieties to consumers.”
However, transporting probiotic products is no easy task.
“Probiotics are very sensitive products, often with very short shelf lives, therefore they require an efficient cold chain network in order to be delivered from where they are manufactured to the retailers where they are sold in a careful and timely manner.”
Truebell recently opened its new state-of-the-art 25,000sqm distribution centre in Dubai Industrial Park, and said it was ready to expand its probiotic offerings to meet the demands of consumers in Middle East.
“With multi-temperature storage accommodating up to 21,000 storage locations across ambient, frozen and chilled produce, we have the correct infrastructure in place to handle and store probiotics,” said Gandhi.
In addition, their fleet of 45 trucks can also transport probiotics effectively and efficiently at their required temperature and within the required timeframe.
He said the growing probiotic market was driven by the significant increase in disposable income and initiatives by key market players to promote these products.
The main players in the region are Yakult and Danone’s Activia and Actimel products, which are sold in both yoghurt and beverage form.
“Looking to the future, we expect the market to continue to grow with more probiotic products becoming available,” he added.