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Hummus with a twist
Hummus is an exceptionally popular product, not only with vegans and vegetarians, but also with people who just want to vary what they eat. There is a good market for this healthy Mediterranean chickpea spread. Producers in Jordan and Lebanon compete for the honour of being seen as the inventor.
Al Bayrouty, in Amman, Jordan, is a factory which makes and cans a number of products, including hummus. Commercial Manager, Ahmad M. Soudi, explains that people in Jordan buy completely different hummus than Dutch and other European people. Jordanian chefs want to determine the flavour themselves, so they buy their chickpea paste quite dry and neutral. "It is our ambition to make a new product which is not only suitable for the Mediterranean market. We are considering targets such as Europe, Canada and the United States. We know that hummus will sell well there, since it is tasty and healthy. But it is a different market to the one to which we are accustomed."
So when the people at the Jordan European Business Association realised that they could invite a Dutch PUM expert to advise them, they jumped at the chance. Ahmad: "Expert Ger de Boer gave us advice on a number of points. With his help, we developed a new product and now, almost 18 months later, we have a good range with appealing recipes and packaging, suitable for the international market. He taught us how we can save water and improve the efficiency of the process. He also gave us information about labelling for the European market. Our own labelling is different, and the regulations here are different to those of the European markets." Ahmad demonstrates how the information about the ingredients must comply with very specific requirements for the European market. The design of the packaging has been adapted to suit Western taste.
"Now we have a good range with appealing recipes and packaging, suitable for the international market"
"He also gave us some names of machine suppliers who produce machines with which we can save on water and material and advised us to comply with the requirements of the FSCC and ISO2000 certifications. We hope to be certified for both within two months. It will make it significantly easier to present our products in the various markets."
And since it's not every day that you have two guinea-pigs visiting, we - reporter and photographer - have to taste the export hummus and tahini, and answer a barrage of questions from Ahmad, his brother and most of all, their father the CEO. What do we think of the creamy variation on the drier hummus they themselves buy? And which hummus do we like best: the one with dried tomatoes, olives or pine nuts? Our favourites are the pesto-flavoured tahini, and even more so, the one with chocolate. Absolutely delicious! Unfortunately, this one is intended for the Canadian market at present. We will have to be patient a little longer.
Text & Photos: Opmeer Reports