FOOD CHOICE INSPIRATIONS LEADING ACROSS CULTURES

Kuwait 2019 | INDUSTRY & FOOD | INTERVIEW

Food Choice has almost singlehandedly shaped the taste palate of the Kuwaiti market over the last 20 years by carefully introducing brands from all across the world.

Marwan Fares
BIOGRAPHY
Marwan Fares is the founder of Food Choice and its current CEO. He has acquired years of experience in the Kuwaiti market, in particular the food and beverages and pastry industries, using that experience to expand and grow Food Choice Company. Fares pursued his basic education in Lebanon. He also attended a training course about food industry in Switzerland.

Since its establishment in 2005, what have been the key factors of growth for Food Choice?

The quality, service, and solutions we offer have been essential to achieve our targets. Our creativity is also a key factor behind our success. We have been looking for brands that really fit the needs and demands of the Kuwaiti market, and we have succeeded in implementing and developing such brands. We started with one or two brands and only a few employees, and have grown to more than 65 brands and 200 employees. We also have a presence in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and an office in Canada. At present, we have an extensive presence in co-ops, hotels, restaurants, and pastry-bakery shops. We always want to bring innovative and creative solutions to the market in order to remain at the forefront of helping consumers improve their lifestyles. There are risks associated with going after new products and solutions, but there is also a great deal of potential.

What elements are you considering before deciding to distribute and represent a brand in Kuwait?

Over the years, we have developed our knowledge about the local market and we have been able to build a solid base of products that are likely to succeed. We often create an idea about what is likely to be popular in the market before starting to search for the actual product; the process of finding new products is long and resource intensive. We have to make sure that the product will fit with the demands and interests of local customers.

What are the major trends and tastes in the Kuwaiti market?

Kuwait is a well-traveled nation. Therefore, we try to bring Italian, French, Lebanese, Japanese, and other tastes into the market. Some of these tastes were readily accepted, but others were too ahead of their time and consumers needed to be eased into these tastes. At the end of the day, our hard work has allowed us to be in line with the tastes and demands of the local market.

What were the key factors in your expansion outside of Kuwait?

We recognized an opportunity in Saudi Arabia in 2012 as the Saudi market was large and relatively untapped, and thought that we could make real inroads with our unique offerings. We moved into Dubai in 2014 for similar reasons, and we developed a presence in Canada in 2013, where we only make special orders for certain clients. We are currently looking closely at Qatar and Bahrain and have established a factory in Turkey. This factory makes canned products for our own brands. We believe in being not just a distributor but in being a company that makes its own vision. We want to bring value from scratch and create something that is unique and special to us.

What are your expectations for 2019?

2019 will be a good year for us and the market. We are always optimistic. We are always looking to meet targets and develop new products and innovative ideas. We have new brands in the pipeline. We invite experts from our suppliers and help customers discover and understand the products. We also host events that help the launch of new products. The Kuwaiti market is an important one, with a promising future for growth. It is characterized by purchasing power due to the strength of the local currency, the current economic stability, and the successive projects carried out by the state and the civil sector.

What is your perspective of Kuwaiti youth and small enterprises?

Young people are adventurous in nature and tend toward establishing small companies or one-man enterprises that do not need large sums of money. It allows the project owner to run his own company flexibly and independently without having to comply with the procedures required to make decisions in companies. This limited liability is the reason why many use a part of their savings or seek loans to start their dream project. Currently, in Kuwait we see many such small companies becoming an important part of the services, restaurants, and entertainment options available.