Bruna Garcia Fonseca
São Paulo – Brazil’s açaí franchise chain Oakberry opened a kiosk in the Emirates Towers, one of Dubai’s landmark sites, a little over a month ago. Two more stores are set to open in the emirate, as well as ones in Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, before the year is over. Future plans also include outlets in Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt and Lebanon, in partnership with a Saudi group.
Oakberry was established in December 2016 in São Paulo and its first-ever kiosk was in the Cidade São Paulo mall, on São Paulo’s Avenida Paulista. It now boasts 139 stores in Brazil, two in the USA, one in Australia and one in Dubai, UAE.
Founder and CEO Georgios Frangulis told ANBA that Arab countries are a ripe market for healthy fast food, and his brand fits the bill. “We picked a very commercial, corporate spot. People are loving it and sales are going quite well. I’m optimistic,” he said regarding the Dubai outlet.
In order to open its first store in the Arab world, Oakberry partnered up with a Dubai entrepreneur who’d travelled to Brazil. The kiosk is set on the ground floor of a building in the Emirates Towers hotel and office complex, on a food court alongside other cafés and fast-food restaurants.
The açaí that’s shipped to Dubai is an international recipe, according to Frangulis. It’s a bit less sweet than the variety made available in Brazil, with agave and organic cane sugar. The toppings on sale in Dubai are also unique: besides the usual ones, options include dried fruits like raisins, apricots and dates; nuts, including hazelnuts, almonds, cashew nuts and regular nuts; and seeds including chia and pumpkin.
An açaí from Oakberry goes for AED 29 to 49 (USD 8-13) in Dubai, with extra toppings available for AED 4 each. In Brazil, prices range from BRL 11.90 to 27.90 (USD 3-7.5).
Oakberry’s next kiosk will open in October at Dubai’s brand new Meydan One Mall. “We have good expectations about the Arab market. It’s a mammoth market that’s often overlooked by Brazilian companies looking to invest abroad. This is a very relevant part of the world,” the business owner said.
Frangulis said it’s great to see the product spreading throughout the world in a professional way, and being able to portray it as something more than just a commodity. “Here in Brazil, people used to look at açaí as a food for fighters, athletes and surfers. Now, we have managed to change that perception,” he said.
Production and processing of Oakberry açaí is done by third parties. The fruit gets processed into pulp in Belém, Pará and then additives are added in Poços de Caldas, Minas Gerais. Logistics are also handled by third parties. “We focus on the brand and service, and we observe quality standards in our almost 150 units. We strive for innovation and product and packaging choices,” said Frangulis.
Last year the company grossed BRL 32 million (USD 8.5 million) in Brazil alone. This year, that amount is expected to climb 181.25% to BRL 90 million (USD 24 million). “It’s still early to estimate our international revenue,” said Frangulis. The 30-year-old Brazilian-born Greek descendant holds a degree in Law. He worked in real estate and was a partner in a São Paulo bar before setting up Oakberry.
A new Oakberry unit is slated to open in Lisbon, Portugal later this month. Next August, two new kiosks will open in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain.
Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum