One-on-One with CEO of Raya Foods

After becoming Egypt’s second-largest exporter of frozen fruits and vegetables, company expanded into local market with its brand Lazah

  
Fresh vegetables. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Fresh vegetables. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Getty Images
 

ArabFinance: With a focus on the export market, Raya Foods began operations in 2017. After becoming Egypt’s second-largest exporter of frozen fruits and vegetables, the company expanded into the local market with its brand Lazah.

Arab Finance met with company CEO Omar Abdelaziz to get a better understanding of Raya Foods’ plans both locally and internationally.

Could you tell our readers about Raya Foods’ journey into the market?

Raya Foods is a subsidiary of Raya Holding, which has been established in the market since 1999. Our journey started when we acquired the International Union for Integrated Food Industries’ factory, which has been operating in the market since 2006, offering a wide variety of frozen vegetables and fruits in both the local and the international markets.

Currently, we manufacture the brand "Lazah", which covers the basic day-to-day product range as well as innovative food solutions that are catered to the consumers’ needs.

What about your size of investments?

Our investments in Raya Foods have reached around EGP 350million.

What markets do you currently serve, external and internal? Do you supply all of Egypt? Do you plan on expanding your supply?

For the past three years, we have been focused on the larger export markets, such as Europe, the USA, Japan, Russia, and the Gulf region.

As of this year, however, we shifted our focus to the local Egyptian market. At this point, the majority of our distribution force is in Greater Cairo, but we are expanding across the Delta through a series of weighted distributors.

What were your main challenges when you began vs. your current challenges?

Rehabilitating and upgrading the acquired facility in less than six months was our biggest challenge. However, once we started production, we have been boosted by our premium quality and Raya Holding’s reputation.

Our challenge during 2017 was acquiring clients and introducing a new company, but since then our reputation has grown beyond anyone’s imagination. Our current challenges can be summed under one flag: having enough production to supply our client’s lists, which is a direct impact from the high demand we are facing for our products.

How has the pandemic impacted your operations and sales?

The pandemic has had a high impact on all industries around the globe, but we at Raya Foods have managed through our diversified markets to overcome the obstacles and not only maintain our sales but increase it to become Egypt’s second-largest exporter of frozen fruits and vegetables.

Has the pandemic impacted your investment plans in any way?

Our investment progress remains as is and has been going according to our short-term three-year plan and longer five-year plan.

We believe that with steady developments comes growth.

In your opinion, what are the major limitations facing your industry today? And what can be done about them?

As an industry, our main challenge is global warming and unexpected weather changes across the globe.

How can the government further aid local companies such as yourself?

The government has already been deploying several measures to regulate exports by establishing the National Food Safety Authority, which will definitely help raise the overall quality of Egyptian food exports and eliminate any players that seek low-quality, low-cost products that damage the overall perception of Egyptian food exports.

What are your near-future investment plans?

We are still working with Raya Holding’s board on our mid-term expansion plans.

How do you view the market outlook in the coming year? Growth and recovery or slowdown?

Despite the pandemic, the market has been growing both globally and locally as the consumers’ mindset shifts towards a healthier lifestyle. We do not foresee a slowdown anytime soon in this industry.

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