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Akiki Frères LB SARL:

Greengrocer in Beirut can count top restaurants as clients

"It's the nicest greengrocer I've ever seen," declares Pieter Boekhout. That carries considerable weight since the Fresh Publishers manager is a seasoned fruit and vegetable store visitor. Pieter is referring to Akiki Frères LB SARL in Antelias, a suburb of Beirut, where he spoke to Rani Akiki, one of the three brothers who head this business.

"We're indeed not the cheapest greengrocer in Lebanon. But, here, you will find top quality, fresh fruits and vegetables from our own country and all over the world," Rani begins. "Yet it's not just the wealthiest people who shop here. The broad middle class does, too, at least those who recognize that, in fruits and vegetables, quality equals longer shelf life. After all, how much fresh produce do we all throw away just because it has gone off after a day or two at home in the refrigerator? When it comes to fruit and vegetables, cheap is often expensive."

Small packs of organic turmeric.

Mini mangoes and kakis and it is only September!

Total supply in the capital and surrounds
Besides the complete range of fresh fruit and vegetables, right down to cresses - Rani visited Koppert Cress in the Netherlands in 2016 - the store offers 18 types of salads and five types of sandwiches, too. "And those are all sold out by the end of the day. We also squeeze juice, make ice cream with natural flavors, and people can have their groceries delivered to their homes via our app," adds operations manager Antonio Dagher. "We used to operate in Lebanon's south and north, but we've been focusing on Beirut and its surrounding area for several years. Our client base is very extensive in that region."

Trays of strawberries and fresh figs.

Chefs walk around and gather their produce.

Five types of grapes.

The brothers have a cousin who is a famous local chef. He is a regular customer, as are numerous colleagues who swear by Akiki Frères LB's fruits and vegetables' guaranteed freshness and taste quality. To provide continuous service to all its buyers - end consumers, restaurateurs, food service, retailers, and other greengrocers - the company not only has the store but also an import/export department called All Fresh and wholesale store Be Green at the Beirut wholesale market.

Big assortment of stone and top fruit.

Leafy vegetables on the cooling shelf.

Celery from Poland.

Assorted tomatoes.

Lots of onions and potatoes.

Everything is beautifully displayed.

Three kinds of chicory.

It all started with fresh juices. Customers come and go to get a cup of vitamins.

Rani started All Fresh in 2014.

"It all began in 1984 when we'd help our father in his small greengrocer after school. We bought this premises in Antelias in 2009 and founded All Fresh in 2014. Not far outside the city, we have our offices and a 2,500m2 warehouse, 1,000m2 of which is refrigerated," says Rani.

Home delivery to consumers and the catering industry. The minimum order amount is 30 euros.

Three rooms above the shop where fresh salads are made.

These will be moved to the shop.

Imports and exports via air freight
Most of the imported products, indeed delicate items like asparagus, soft fruit, cress, and edible flowers, are flown in on mixed pallets. "Those can come from anywhere in the world. Our supplier is a Dutch company that can offer us the whole range, and in the quantities we want. An order we place today will arrive at our warehouse tomorrow or the day after at the latest. Air freight costs more than $1 per kilo. That's one of the reasons our products are slightly more expensive. They're exclusive, though."

All Fresh also directly sources products like lettuce from Italy and soft fruit from Spain. "That's slightly cheaper when it comes to transportation because it's not re-exports with certificates of origin. We currently have Egyptian mangoes because Lebanon has a trade agreement with certain Arab countries, which offers the advantage of low or no import taxes. Africa, too, can be an area of origin: our papayas come from Ghana," Rani explains.

Like All Fresh imports mixed pallets from the Netherlands, it plans to, in the future, arrange the same on the export side with Lebanese products for expats and other buyers in the United Arab Emirates and various African countries. "We're thinking primarily about Hass and Fuerte avocados, several apple varieties, chirimoyas, and grapes," concludes Antonio.

For more information:
Rani Akiki (CEO)
Akiki Frères LB SARL
Main Str., Antelias (Libanon)
Tel.: +961 4444 227/8
Email: [email protected]