Consumers the driving force shaping today’s food trends, says McDonalds Middle East Chief
Convenience, transparency and social media identified as industry game-changers
Doha, February 27, 2013: Consumers are the driving force shaping the future of the food industry; with demand for convenience, a hunger for greater transparency and use of social media platforms identified as the three key game-changers for the industry. Those are the conclusions of Yousif Abdulghani, Managing Director of McDonalds Middle East and Africa, speaking at Gulfood, the world’s biggest annual food and hospitality show, currently taking place in Dubai.
Yousif Abdulghani Managing Director McDonald's Middle East and Africa
Abdulghani said: “Consumers’ changing needs are driving us as an industry to offer more choices, better service, and better value. Consumers are changing their eating habits - there is more out of home consumption, they want convenience and they want to know more about their food, how it is made and where it comes from. They are hungry for information and demand transparency from companies.”
Abdulghani was discussing major trends affecting the Middle East food industry in a lively panel debate session entitled - Who is Shaping the Future of Food? Big Business, Consumer or Public Policy? McDonald’s operates more than 360 restaurants and employ over 10,000 people in the GCC.
Abdulghani said: “What is exciting and also challenging to see is how lifestyle shifts, technology and social media are changing the way that people interact with brands in our industry. Customers no longer want just to be broadcast to, they expect to be able to have personalised conversations and interact one-on-one with brands. For example, consumers are more active in seeking nutritional information of the food they consume – whether this means checking the packaging for the ingredients or nutritional content. McDonald’s are leaders in making sure nutritional information of our products is conveniently available on our website, tray mats and flyers and will continue to innovate here to make sure our consumers make informed choices of the food they eat.”
Abdulghani praised the role of regional governments in ensuring quality standards among the industry – especially in terms of halal certification, food safety and hygiene. “We believe that Governments should actively work with businesses to establish guidelines and regulations that can positively enhance industry practices.
Strict halal guidelines and the inspection process where products are approved by local authorities and Halal officers at the countries of export, are critical to ensure meat products meet the local requirements,” he said.
Calling on the industry to ensure they implement and adhere to their own internal strict sourcing and food safety checks to complement government actions, Abdulghani said, “McDonald’s has built a system of Quality, Service and Cleanliness (QSC) into every aspect of the business, including our supply chain. Our food safety and quality requirements - which meet government standards - are among the strictest in the restaurant industry.
To qualify as a McDonald’s supplier, a business must fully meet global official benchmarks as well as McDonald’s internal food safety standards, product specification and farm biosecurity policies. In addition, they must also adhere to social responsibility policies on aspects concerning animal welfare, animal feed, as well as prohibition of deforestation and use of antibiotics as growth promoters and above all, Halal.”
McDonald’s have developed a number of local and regional suppliers including Al-Rashed Bakery in Saudi Arabia and Kuwaiti Flower Mills for supply of buns; IFFCO in the UAE and the Kuwaiti Danish Dairy Company for supply of oil, eggs and dairy products; Del Monte in the UAE & Saudi Arabia for supply of salads and vegetables and Nabil Factory in Jordan for supply of meat products.
McDonald’s is the world’s leading food service organisation serving 69 million people each day at more than 34,000 restaurants in 119 countries. McDonald’s products consist of high quality ingredients from the four essential food groups required for a well-balanced diet, including many essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. McDonald’s is committed to Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value in every aspect of its operation. In the GCC, all McDonald’s restaurants are locally owned and operated by entrepreneurs. McDonald’s operates in more than 360 restaurants in the GCC, and the first restaurant opened on 8th December 1993 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.