The company, which is based in the Caucasus near the Georgian border, and takes regional landmark Mt Elbrus, Russia’s highest mountain, as its logo, will make the UAE the site of its second factory. Goldberg plans to have the plant in operation by the end of 2016, according to Suranga De Silva, director of Goldberg Worldwide.
He said the Middle East facility may even exceed the 35-tonne capacity of Goldberg’s Russian factory: “This factory will have more capacity, because we will have more automation – there’s less automation in the Russian factory.”
Logistics drive local production
Logistical challenges were the main reason behind establishing a factory in the Middle East, said De Silva: “We cannot sea-freight these products, because it takes 35 days – and the shelf-life on some of the products is just 60 days. We have some 30-day shelf-life products which we’re not bringing here, because it doesn’t make sense. So if you have a factory here, you can produce and put products into the market immediately, saving time.”
He also said having a local factory would allow the company to make changes to its products more easily, in order to adapt them to the local market. Currently Goldberg is considering a number of sites across the UAE for the factory, according to De Silva.
Goldberg is targeting the premium chocolate market in the region, trading on its products’ lack of artificial preservatives and their high-quality, carefully-sourced ingredients, many of them from the Caucasus region. But De Silva said the company has the capability to target a lot of different market segments.
“We have a range of 150 to 200 products, from jellies and candies and drops, to chocolates and truffles, so we can enter at any market level, from supermarkets to high-end stores,” he said.
Small retail presence planned
Initially Goldberg will sell its imported products through the Oakks Walk restaurant in Dubai, in which Goldberg’s owner has an interest. It is also targeting high-end hotels, along with duty free outlets and government offices, according to De Silva.
“Probably next year we’ll look at a boutique store that does chocolates and organic coffee and tea, somewhere in Jumeirah or Satwa, somewhere like that,” he added.
Goldberg exhibited at last month’s Sweets & Snacks and Speciality Food Festival events in Dubai, as part of a soft launch. De Silva said he was keen to use the shows to gauge the local market’s reactions to the firm’s products.
“I’m trying to get a feel of the market – how people are approaching the products. We’re trying to get an idea of how it tastes for people, because we can change whatever we need to, increase or decrease the sugar, change the size. We need that general feedback from people in the market – for example some people are saying we should make the products smaller,” said De Silva.
“Plus we want Goldberg to be known – nobody knows Goldberg right now,” he added.