M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News
Published — Thursday 23 September 2004
Last Update 23 September 2004 3:00 am
The Al-Hasa Automatic Bakeries Company, which belongs to Al-Houssain & Al-Afaliq Group, has made headlines in the Kingdom’s food and bakery sector by winning prestigious certifications of ISO 9001:2000, HACCP and SQF. These certifications bear testimony to the quality of bakery and confectionery products produced by Al-Hasa Bakeries, a household name in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Afaliq, industrial projects general manager, Al-Houssain & Al-Afaliq Group, the holding company of Al-Hasa Automatic Bakeries, said: “The periodic evaluation of our products and services conducted by a number of organizations and customers like Saudi Aramco and Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO) itself indicates the world-class standards and specifications with which Al-Hasa Bakeries is complying.”
In fact, it has emerged as the leading bakery in the Gulf currently engaged in manufacturing, marketing and distribution of its own brand of high-quality products. Al-Hasa Bakeries is one of the first few bakeries of the Middle East to win international certifications. Its products include Arab bread, sandwich roll, burger, sliced bread and bread crumbs. It has been producing a range of confectionery products including cheese pastries, croissant, pizza, French crepe, cakes (vanilla, plum, pound, almond fruit and orange), sweet roll, Indian spicy snacks, rusk, popcorn, cookies, dates biscuits, dates maamoul, samboosa leaves and many other products especially for the holy month of Ramadan.
On the company’s future plans, Al-Afaliq said: “We are on the expansion course and our new sophisticated and computerized plant will begin production early next year. The plant with a modern production facility for bakery and confectionery materials, is located in Al-Ahsa Industrial City, some 300 km east of the Saudi capital.” He pointed out that the existing production unit is equipped with specialized production lines with a cumulative capacity to produce 25,000 tons annually.
Al-Afaliq said Al-Hasa Bakeries has finalized plans to launch some new flavored cakes, premium quality of bread and rusk items, flavored popcorn and Indian snacks. “The new products will jack up our market share,” he said, adding that “we have already grabbed eight percent marketshare in bakery segment and 14 percent marketshare in confectionery segment.”
“Al-Hasa Bakeries maintains its market penetration in Saudi Arabia and strong position across the Gulf countries in terms of the distribution of a range of bakery and confectionery products,” said Al-Afaliq. “Al-Hasa Bakeries has been exporting around 10 percent of its total production. This distribution task is made possible by a large sales network, which covers all the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.”
The bakery has its own well-equipped logistics department controlling a fleet of over 120 trucks and other vehicles. “These vehicles ferry around our products to distribution depots located in Alkhobar, Jubail, Nariyah, Qaisumah, Arar, Tabuk, Madinah, Qasim and Riyadh. Such a massive distribution and demand of our products are mainly possible because of the added-value and quality we supply to our customers,” Al-Afaliq said.
Al-Hasa Bakeries is also contributing to the self-sufficiency drive of Saudi Arabia, thus reducing the country’s dependence on stale imported food items especially bakery products. Saudi Arabia, where 30 percent of the total food products consumed are imported, has a growing food market especially for bakery and confectionery products.
Al-Hasa Bakeries is owned by Al-Houssain & Al-Afaliq Group which has promoted many other commercial projects in the Eastern Region. Some of them include the sumptuous Al-Ahsa Intercontinental Hotel, Al-Hasa Plastic Products Co., Al-Hasa Cold Storage Co., HACO for Readymix Concrete & Blocks and Shopping Malls Co. & Supermarkets. These are in addition to a few new commercial ventures in which the group has evinced keen interest recently.