When did SFFI open?
Harold: The original factory opened in 2004 with a team of 15 people. There were only seven Spinneys stores at the time, so everything was very different compared to the scale at which we operate today. We moved to Jebel Ali in 2010 and now have 120 people working for us. Most of the original team still works at SFFI, all of whom have grown within the business. Being able to promote staff is important to the business.
When did you both join the business?
Harold: I joined in 2008. I’m actually a chef by profession and grew up helping out in my parents’ butchery, bakery and restaurant.
Ruchira: I’ve been with Spinneys for 21 years. I started as a production assistant and have grown in the business.
What is SFFI’s mission?
Harold: As a supermarket retailer, Spinneys has also invested in its own logistics/distribution company and factories (SFFI and the Spinneys Central Bakery). Not all supermarket retailers operate like this and we are unique in the UAE. By being in full control of the supply chain (sourcing from trusted suppliers, producing, distribution etc), and acting as a dedicated in-house supplier to every single Spinneys store, SFFI and the Spinneys Central Bakery are both able to ensure that we consistently make quality products and always meet customer demands.
How do your processes work and what products are made at SFFI?
Ruchira: Basically, the Spinneys commercial team sources grain-fed, grass-fed and Wagyu beef, lamb and poultry from around the world with which we make more than 200 products (or 25 tonnes) a day. Our variety includes spinneysFOOD beef and chicken kebabs, burger patties, beef and chicken meatballs, mince, sausages, a variety of steaks, marinated chickens and biltong. We operate every day, all year round. We never close because delivering fresh products to stores is imperative.
How many of your processes are automated?
Harold: We strive to keep many of our processes manual, which means we really rely on the skills and expert knowledge of our staff. We’re looking for authentic, homemade, artisanal products. We mix all our own sauces and make our own marinades; our chicken and beef kebabs are hand-sliced into cubes and assembled onto skewers; all our steaks – including tenderloin, sirloin, rump and rib-eye – are hand-cut; our burgers are hand-shaped; our meatballs are portioned and rolled; our biltong is sliced and packed by hand – you get the idea. Products like our short ribs, oxtail, lamb shanks and lamb cutlets are cut using a band saw.
From which countries does Spinneys source its meat and poultry?
Ruchira: Our chicken is mostly sourced from Brazil and our lamb and beef come from Australia and New Zealand.
Which product is in highest demand?
Ruchira: That would be the BBQ, peri-peri, salt and pepper and tandoori-marinated chickens, which are cooked in the rotisserie ovens in store. We can produce more than 4,000 pieces a day. Our spinneysFOOD Everyday Beef Mince is also popular.
What certifications does SFFI hold?
Ruchira: Both the Central Bakery and SFFI are HACCP-recognised and SFFI is also ISO 22000-certified.
Tell us more about the organic range produced at SFFI.
Harold: Each morning, we start by making the organic products – so they are kept separate from the rest. We follow strict cleaning and segregation protocols.
How long would it take to launch a new product?
Harold: On average, it takes two months. There are a number of steps involved, including, but not limited to, recipe testing, nutritional trials, shelf-life testing, municipality approvals and packaging design. We work with a lot of different external and internal departments for new product development.