A simpler way

Accessing international markets is not a simple thing to do no matter how seasoned the food and drinks manufacturer is. Even when their products are of potential interest to buyers in those markets, the challenges that they face in effectively and sustainably getting them to consumers are many.

These challenges are not only limited to identifying the right distributor partnerships that will carry their products, they also extend to the work that is required to adequately promote and market them to retailers and ultimately consumers.

With an extensively saturated market place and volatile product life cycles, these challenges are ever the more complex and expensive to manage. And so, Equitable Gourmet is working on making life a bit simpler for the many suppliers looking to introduce and promote their products to some of the U.K’s most important food and drinks retailers.

We are excited about this project which makes use of the latest technology to bring together a family of stakeholders with a common interest.

More on this soon!

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Apple & Quince Molasses



This month sees the introduction of our newest product, the Marigold Apple & Quince Molasses.

This wonderful and unique condiment is delicious in desserts and can be diluted to create cordials and sorbets. It is an excellent alternative to maple syrup or honey that can also add a hint of subtle fruitiness to your favourite savoury dishes.

The Apple & Quince Molasses is made for us by the Barouk and Fraidiss Agriculture Cooperative which is located at an altitude of 1200m above seal level in the village of Fraidiss, Mount Lebanon. Set within the biosphere that borders the biggest cedar tree nature reserve in Lebanon, the coop was established in 1997 and has 67 active members. It provides a range of services to its members and to the surrounding villages, helping farmers to transform their produce into a number of value added processed products.

We would like to thank DAI whose work on USAID’s Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development – LIVCD Program has been instrumental in helping to get this product to market. A special thanks goes out to Jane Gleason, Wajdi Khater and Hill Skaff whose support and personal efforts have made this possible, and we look forward to continue working with DAI on the next stages of this product’s development.

For more information about DAI and their initiatives in Lebanon, please visit:


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New Product 2014

In April we will be launching a wonderful product!

More on this soon!

Our Marigold Apple & Quince Molasses

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Our Marigold range in the Benelux

We are happy to announce that our Marigold range is now available at http://www.gekruid.com

Gekruid is the largest online retailer of natural herbs, spices and whole foods in the Benelux.

We are grateful to Niels Wijnen and his team at Gekruid for their custom and are excited that these wonderful products are now available in this important market.


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Original Pomegranate Molasses Recipes

Pomegranate Molasses has been used as an ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries if not millennia. More recently, it has enjoyed widespread popularity with Western chefs, finding its way into numerous original and popular recipes.

We would like to share with you links to some of our favourites, and we will of course be updating the list as we come across additional ones. We hope that you enjoy them and by all means, do share with us your suggestions or links to your own favourites!


Bulgur ( burghul) salad with pomegranate molasses

Marinated Radishes with Pomegranate Molasses

Poached eggs with pomegranate molasses

Chicken wings with pomegranate molasses


Cornish hens with pomegranate molasses glaze

Slow roast shoulder of lamb with pomegranate molasses

Tender braised duck with pomegranate molasses

Roast pork belly with pomegranate molasses


Pomegranate chocolate brownies

Ricotta pancakes with roast grapes and pomegranate molasses

Poached quince with pomegranate molasses, pistachio and jasmine

Pomegranate cheesecake

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Pomegranate Harvest

This October I visited our pomegranate molasses producer during the pomegranate harvesting season.

Despite the serenity portrayed in the below pictures , this is a hectic period for all those involved as they scramble, and haggle to obtain the quality, quantity, and price for the fruit that they need in order to fulfil their production requirements. Optimum processing requires the fruits to be fresh so this is a month where night and day are intertwined.

Pomegranates harvested and ready for processing!

The village of Zakroun overlooking the Mediterranean coast, North Lebanon.

Joseph’s processing plant

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Our Marigold Pomegranate Molasses at Waitrose


As of October this year our Marigold Pomegranate Molasses will be available at Waitrose.

From the early stages of its launch this product has demonstrated strong demand potential, and we feel that we have been a major player in bringing this wonderful ages-old ingredient to the British consumer.

As many leading U.K chefs discover its unique taste and versatility, Pomegranate Molasses is becoming widely used as ingredient in a wide range of novel and familiar recipes. Whether as a dressing on salads or to baste chicken in the oven, its tangy bitter-sweetness adds a depth of flavour to your favourite dishes that very few ingredients can.


Our Marigold Pomegranate Molasses is truly wonderful and authentic, and we hope that its finds a place in kitchens across the U.K. We also look forward to sharing more on the story behind this product and its ongoing success in later posts.


On the shelves

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SME Entrepreneurship 101

How do you pass on entrepreneurship to your suppliers?

For a business to grow in any environment it has to feed on information that it can understand and interpret. For it to thrive, these interpretations have to be original enough to allow it to gain an edge over its competition. These insights however, are irrelevant if the business cannot transform them into the right products, services, or actions.

Now given that some producers are by nature proactive and quite receptive to market dynamics, while others are less commercial but more creative in developing products, we can focus with the particular supplier on the relevant weakness: product / market opportunities, or product development.

And how is this communicated to the producer?

At the very early stages of a relationship, we try to explain to the producer that exploiting and/or creating market opportunities is not a luxury: it is a necessity without which we cannot survive. This approach helps us to attach a sense of urgency and excitement to the relationship, and sets the pace at which we would like to see things develop.

So you sort of set the stage in a way.

Absolutely, what counts here is that we are on the same page:

We have a need for innovative products that can potentially fill gaps in the market and for suppliers who can deliver these products according to certain terms – but we are also there to provide the necessary information and the support that will allow them to supply these products.

Interdependence and entrepreneurship are the underlying theme if you like: cooperating on the interpretation of information and on product development in order to thrive, and share in the success.

And this interdependence requires them to become entrepreneurial.

Sure, and as discussed earlier, this becomes apparent when we focus with them on customer outcomes. In a sense entrepreneurship is learnt as a byproduct of the initiative rather than a prerequisite to it.

What are some of the critical factors in this learning process?

There are two things that we keep an eye on and that are crucial for us as we look at a product’s future potential. Without them the chances for success are greatly diminished, and the risks associated with further investment in the product become more significant.

The first is to make sure that the producer sheds the illusion that we are the market, and this has to happen at the time of the second order. If they cannot do so they are either:
. incapable of interpreting information which is beyond our scope of control, or
. they are focused on short term gain.
In both cases, this diminishes our ability to to exploit or create opportunities with them.

The second is to make sure that the supplier is ‘delivering’ by the time their product has established a presence on shelves. If they have failed to do so they are incapable or unwilling to act on information, and this diminishes our ability to deliver outcomes for our clients.

And what about those insights?

Like the drive to succeed, they are also a byproduct of accomplishments. Our aim here is for our suppliers to accumulate the relevant knowledge in such a way that its interpretation is in line with our own vision. More on this later !

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NGOs and Beneficiaries: what’s in my account?!

So how about those NGOs?

On the supply side, our main focus is on building the skills of our producers and this is done as our commercial relationship with them develops. Our work in this area is pragmatic, focused, and results oriented.

And this is where the NGO support comes in

The suppliers often need the support that development projects provide, and we try to get as much of it for them as we can.

What are your main concerns when approaching the NGO?

We have come across a number of challenges but the main concern that I’d like to cover in this post is that of accountability.

Can you elaborate?

In a venture, the parties involved usually hold each other accountable on the basis of certain mutual obligations, the achievement of specific objectives, and the overall experience and results. Unfortunately, we have found that in many cases this accountability is not apparent in the NGO-beneficiary relationship, and this can have a negative impact on our own business if we are not careful.

How so?

Introducing a producer into an environment where the outcome of the support is not clear, and the party delivering the service cannot be held to account, carries all sorts of risks for us.

But donors usually do look for positive outcomes don’t they?

Sure, and putting the donor’s overall agenda to one side, the project will have a number of deliverables that are designed to have a positive impact on the beneficiary/community.

In our view however, if the activities that are directly relevant to the beneficiaries’ businesses are not tied to specific financial objectives and a bottom line, the financial outcomes of the social investment become fluid, and this positive impact becomes dubious.

Other than making it difficult to judge and monitor the sustainability of a particular business, this fluidity implies two things :

. Measuring if, and to what extent the producer has benefited from the activity becomes difficult.
. Measuring the beneficiary’s personal development over the course of the project becomes impossible.

Now this might be fine in some cases, but not when we are trying to help communities generate incomes and jobs, or we are helping small businesses become sustainable and successful.

So because the donor does not expect the NGO or the beneficiary to delivery any financial results through their investment, the levels of accountability drop?

Yes, and despite the fact that a project document is technically good, it is incomplete in a sense because on the one hand there are few or no requirements and design elements that pressure the NGO to work around concrete financial results, and on the other, there is little said about the beneficiary’s role and obligations in helping to achieve these results.

And how does that effect your beneficiaries?

This varies of course. The point is that the initiative ends up being mostly a unilateral affair where the beneficiary can become a happy recipient of aid rather than an effective partner in achieving outcomes. They might have gained some assets, but their future prospects aren’t necessarily any better. They haven’t learned much!

Quite a challenge!

Look, on both sides of the equation people quickly get a sense of this game and become dependent on it as they would a subsidy.

Our own producers are commercial partners and we have an obligation to guide them so that they can get the support they need while staying focused on the business at hand. In a sense we have to empower them so that they as ‘clients’ can set the agenda. How well the NGO responds to this is a measure of their responsiveness to the actual needs of their beneficiary.

Have you found NGOs receptive to your model and your approach?

We’ve had some positive experiences and are working on collaborating on more projects in the near future. As far as the relevance of our model to the sector, we can perhaps look at this in a later post.

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When it all goes horribly wrong

After the longest journey, and yards away from destination…some things you can’t do much about 😦


A quote from the email we received informing us of this mishap which occurred yesterday.

” Hi Wadih

The driver said he had to brake sharply as he came up Camley Street. The pallets fell as you see. Some were built 7 foot high and a plastic pallet even broke underneath one smaller load. We have separated what we can and will have to go through all the boxes. We have thrown a certain amount away already and I think we may have over a third of the consignment affected with stained labels and ruined boxes. ”


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