I’ve mentioned that my wife and I kicked off a product when we first came to the northern rivers. We prepared and packaged and freighted this business idea in our garage.
I would say that there’d be quite a few sheds and garages in the northern rivers that are lent to the production of some interesting business ideas.
Amir and Ricky Zikhron did pretty much the same thing with their Baraka Foods dips and cheese business. The difference is they are still with us and are fast moving toward the main game, which is to have their products everywhere, Australia wide and exported to other countries.
Amir has been working with hummus in a commercial sense for around 20 years. ‘I’ve been surrounded by hummus since in the womb. Our products are made using recipes that have been passed down through many generations of our family,’ Amir said. Baraka Foods is the result of this North African family’s interest in the foods he now prepares. Their hummus is some of the best I’ve tried on the market, which is no surprise considering the ground control that a family-run show has over their own manufacturing.
Apart from this, the ingredients used are free from preservatives, colouring and chemicals, and produce is sourced as far as possible through local connections that, over the years, have been forged and reinforced by the farmers’ markets. They no doubt have gotten to know a few producers over the time they’ve been attending the five markets per week they sell from. Tonnes of chickpeas come straight from the farm to factory. Fresh herbs such as basil and parsley are from local growers and are only supplemented when the demand is too high for the local supply to cope. Milk from Myocum Dairy Farm is used for the labneh cheese.
‘In the beginning we started selling our products both at music festivals in a market stall and at Katoush, a Middle-Eastern eatery we started in Byron Bay. The food was similar in style to Yami in Brunswick Heads, and we ran it until 2005,’ Amir told me. ‘When we sold the restaurant, we kept on at the music festivals and moved into making house-made Middle-Eastern foods from out of our own kitchen.’ Amir added, ‘This was born out of a demand for our foods after we sold the restaurant, so Ricky used to take a basket around and sell the tubs. We then grew out of the house and started manufacturing at the Synergy Group in Murwillumbah, supporting the employment of local disability employees’.
For a year and a half they continued and again the business outgrew their production facilities. ‘Our business then expanded enough to move into our own facilities in Byron industrial estate for the next four years. We found a distributor in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and business tripled – hence our latest move into a large purpose-built renovation of the old Humble Pie factory in Billinudgel,’ said Amir.’ The farmers markets propped the business up while we increased our market share locally. The local markets became a powerful public-relations exercise that paid off in getting the name out into the local community in the northern rivers’.
From small things big things grow and currently you can buy Baraka hummus, labneh and soon pesto at independent grocers throughout the east coast of Australia. There appears to be no dip in Baraka Foods’ growth projections as they continue working on Australia wide distribution and export markets.
For further information visit their website: www.barakafoods.com.au.