November 23, 2018 |
Bareburger has been taking the market by storm since its inception in the summer of 2009. That it creates a really tasty burger isn’t unique, but its ethical approach to sourcing and creating clean comfort food certainly puts it in pole position when it comes to meeting the more conscious eating habits of today’s world. We took 30 minutes out to meet Bareburger’s UAE country manager, Fabrice Vriens, and asked him five questions on why Bareburger is such as success.
You are famous for taking a simple and joyful approach to food and having a larger number of vegan and vegetarian products. Do you think that this will be become the norm over the next few years?
We as Bareburger are not against meat, we just want people to eat less meat and a better meat that is not full of hormones. We are not trying to convert people into vegans. However, we have to accept that the market has changed. restaurants have to adapt, the vegan voice is very loud and so having a vegan menu alongside the non-vegan menu will become the norm. The UAE is not yet mature enough as a market to have this, but it will come. More and more restaurants are clearly labelling vegan and vegetarian items on their menu as a result of people demanding more information on the supply chain. So yes I believe it will become the norm.
A lot of brands start off with good intentions, but as they grow they lose their values. How does Bareburger envisage combining both successfully?
Ethical sourcing is at the heart of the DNA of Bareburger and removing it will kill the brand. The market is moving in our favour as consumers are asking more questions regards the supply chain and where things are coming from. Our staff are trained to know where the meat comes from and where it has been raised. All of our vegetables are grown locally and picked within 2-3 days of being consumed.
The growth model has changed from being a franchise to being more of a partnership. Bareburger has local partners in countries outside of the USA, whilst at home it develops 50:50 partnerships with all parties having to show a deep understanding of the brand and its DNA. We take more of an ethical approach to franchising than some other more commercially-driven brands. Bareburger is not for every franchisee, it cannot open on every street corner as the brand is extremely heavy in terms of its requirements from the franchisee and their commitment to ethical sourcing.
Do you think the UAE supply chain is comparable to the supply chain the brand is used to in other markets? Where do you see the up and downsides?
Overall sourcing in the UAE is very easy, but the difficulty we face is when we want specific, ethical products. Trying to describe a specific need to the supplier is quite difficult as they do not understand what we are looking for and do not understand the differences between organic, natural and hydroponic products. However things are improving and we are starting to work with UAE farmers directly who understand what we need and we trust them to deliver organic product to us without cutting corners.
Initially sourcing guidelines were to source produce from a maximum radius of 100km around each restaurant. However in the UAE we are not able to do this, at the moment, and so we do import from overseas. For example our beef is from an amazing Australian organic farmer, who has been vetted and meets our exacting demands. The facts are then that margins are lower, profitability is reduced as we believe that the company’s values are more important than profits.
Do you think that Bareburger is late to join the burger party or do you feel that your offer will revive this sector? What are you doing to stay ahead of the curve?
We have a completely different offer so we are not late to the party. In fact we are adding to the market as it changes from regarding the burger as a junk food to what it is today, which is a clean source of protein. I had a discussion with someone the other day about what defines healthy and questioned whether a salad sprayed with pesticides was healthy. There is a misconception about what defines healthy and we are there to define what that means through providing a better product. As mindsets shift we believe that we are on the winning side. Our Beyond Burger, made with plant-based meatless meat, represents 30% of our revenue, which far exceeded our expectations.
Our menus will include a calorie count as well as vegan, vegetarian, gluten free options, which is not the norm for our sector. We believe that dining should be fun and our menus should still be easy to read and not feel like studying. Restaurants need to be transparent and find a way for the customer to know exactly what is inside a dish that they order. By doing this we will stay ahead of the curve.
Your locations are very different. Do you see a difference in consumer behaviours and spend across these locations?
Yes there are differences in consumers and their behaviour between the locations. In different locations people come for different reasons and order different things, for example more camel burgers are sold in La Mer, a beachfront location in Dubai, because there are more tourists here. Cooking temperatures vary through the day as the demographic changes – medium when there are more tourists to well done when the Emiratis come to dine with us. These are again different depending on the location.
We will continue to grow, but our selective nature means that we will do so slowly and always put our brand before our profits.
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