x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Dubai ready to rock with sweet British treat

A popular confectionary sweet sold at seaside towns in the United Kingdom is set to hit the shelves of the Emirates.

The stick of rock, a traditional treat at seaside resorts in the United Kingdom, is set to hit the shelves of the Emirates.

But parents should beware the risk to their children's teeth because the sweet is made entirely of boiled sugar.

Orbis Foods, a local coffee roaster and gourmet food supplier, is launching Dubai Rock, a form of the hard-boiled confection commonly found in Britain.

The sweet comes in 12-inch tubes of a Dh1 coin in diameter, and running through its length is the phrase "I Love Dubai."

"We at Orbis wanted to enter into a new market that we had not previously explored," said Justin Clarke, the company's founder and chief executive. "There's clearly sweet brands here, but none of them have taken 'brand Dubai' and used it to their advantage."

Orbis buys the rock from a manufacturer in the British seaside town of Blackpool, and the sweet is custom-made for the UAE.

The tubular treat is made in three colours: black, green and white, to represent the UAE flag and it is packaged with a picture of the Dubai skyline.

A stick of rock is produced by boiling sugar and rolling it out in different colours and flavourings.

"[The UAE] is a passionate nation when it comes to National Day. It's crazy that we have all the flags but we do not have rock for National Day," said Mr Clarke.

Orbis is close to signing deals with some of the biggest retailers in the UAE and hopes to sell custom-made rock to tourists and third parties, such as hotels, malls and businesses. Each stick of rock is expected to retail at about Dh28 (US$7).

"We currently have the colours of the UAE flag but we have the ability to do anything," said Mr Clarke.

He added that his supplier had tried to create rock with "I Love Dubai" running through it in Arabic, but that it was more difficult because of the round and flowing nature of the written Arabic language.

Orbis forecasts it can sell 250,000 pieces of rock in the first year and will invest in its own production here in the Emirates if the orders far exceed that level.

"Our suppliers can cope with much more than we forecast for the year," said Mr Clarke. "If it looks as if it will exceed that forecast, we will make our own facilities pretty quickly."

At its Al Quoz warehouse in Dubai, Orbis roasts fresh coffee for 109 four and five-star hotels in the UAE. It also distributes 22 gourmet products to cafes and supermarkets, such as Spinneys and Waitrose.

"Orbis is not just about coffee," said Mr Clarke. "What we are trying to do is give people a choice in the quality end of the food market."


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