Mark Haynes

Mark Haynes

The Middle East remains, for the most part, a market dominated by price, with most other concerns, including quality, branding and ethical trading, relegated down the list of requirements. It can be difficult, then, for those unfamiliar with the market to gauge exactly where a UK supplier like Cambridgeshire-based G’s, known for its quality and widely respected for its values and care for the environment, fits into such an arena. However, it is the other, more niche side of this varied market – the one centred in the UAE and dominated by a plethora of five-star hotels, swanky restaurants and modern ex-pat-filled retail outlets – that attracts the likes of G’s, with its branded organic salads and multiple beetroot products.

The company’s farms and production facilities are located throughout the UK, as well as in Spain, Czech Republic and the US, while it enjoys a strong customer base in Europe, Australia and, most recently, the US. According to managing director Mark Haynes, the Middle East is the next target for G’s, especially for the group’s Love Beets brand of beetroot products and its O’live range of organic lettuce, leeks, onions, spinach and celery.

“We are looking for opportunities in the region for our whole range of brands,” says Haynes, “but above all for Love Beets and O’live. There seem to be gaps in the market and a general desire for a more consistent range of organics.”

The organic trend has been growing steadily in the UAE over the past few years, which have witnessed the opening of street markets, grocery stores and cafés specifically targeted at organic consumers. “In this region, people are increasingly looking for food safety,” affirms Haynes, “but the organic category lacks a coherent message. O’live is an organic brand, but it is in fact focused more on traceability and ethics. The organic side is secondary.”

More important for Haynes is to meet the customer’s demand for regular supplies of reliable quality. “Innovation in organic farming has improved the quality, the availability and the consistency, which are key to the growth of the segment,” he states. “We have been producing organics since 1995, so we are very experienced. What sets us apart from others is that we manage the entire process from seed to shelf, via production and marketing, giving us complete control.”

For the company’s Love Beets range, consisting of packs of flavoured baby beets, cooked beetroot, juices and bars, Haynes is keen to identify a suitable distributor to work with in the UAE market. “We have built up an extensive knowledge of producing, processing and marketing beetroot,” he says. “We’ve seen great growth in the UK and started sending to Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, where the health aspect is big, and now we’re ready to expand to other markets. In the Gulf, we’ve seen a lot of pickled beetroot on offer, but not fresh, which has inspired us. We’re confident the range will succeed in the retail, foodservice and catering sectors in the region. We just need to find the right partner.”