Elena Shifrina is the brains behind BioFoodLab, which manufactures wholesome and additive-free snack bars. Courtesy BioFoodLab
Elena Shifrina is the brains behind BioFoodLab, which manufactures wholesome and additive-free snack bars. Courtesy BioFoodLab

Russian entrepreneur takes healthy food message to UAE



Elena Shifrina was working as a model when she said she decided to do "something more" with her life.

So she studied business and worked in sales and logistics before returning to business school for a second time. It was there where Ms Shifrina, who is from Russia and won the Forbes Russia Entrepreneur of the Year Award, came up with the idea for BioFoodLab, which makes healthy snack bars that are free of additives and preservatives and consist only of fruits, nuts, berries and spices. Here she talks to The National about how she devised the idea and why she decided to enter the UAE market.

What gave you the idea for Bite?

I came up with the idea while studying at the Skolkovo Business School. During an internship in Boston, I became really inspired by the lifestyle of local residents – their morning runs and the accessible healthy food. I realised that this was something that I really missed in Russia at the time. So I gathered together a team of like-minded people and in 2012 we created our company, BioFoodLab. Our first product was a healthy fruit and nut bar, Bite. It is 100 per cent natural, nutritious and tastes great. Initially, we had five different flavours in our product line. Now we have 11. Another major project is Bitey, which was inspired by my kids. I don’t buy them snacks with added sugar and chemical additives. I wanted kids everywhere to have the opportunity to eat right. I also wanted to make sure that we offered the most colourful and interesting product possible because kids always go after the brightest-coloured, most unusual sweets in the store. Our product line includes snacks for kids of all ages.

How did you develop it?

We develop all our technologies and recipes in-house. All our production is based on a special technology of vigilant production, which allows us to preserve all the useful properties of our ingredients without adding any preservatives. We have our own factory with 24-7 quality control.

What sort of research did you do into the market in Russia before you launched Bite? And what did it tell you? 

Initially, we held a study and the result was exactly what you would expect. Foreign producers had an 80 per cent share of the Russian natural-bar market. But the niche was developing actively, with growth rates of about 4 to 6 per cent per year. This trend is continuing today. Healthy living, fitness, proper nutrition – the number of trends related to keeping up a healthy approach to your life and your body is growing fast in Russia and will only continue to do so in the future. We’re constantly analysing the market and studying global trends and experience.

What sort of challenges did you encounter in founding the company?

At the very beginning, we had a huge problem. We learnt quickly that there wasn't suitable equipment in Russia to produce and package our healthy bars. Lots of production lines of varying capacity levels were available in Moscow but none of them could do what we needed them to do. So we had to purchase all our equipment ourselves. Now we have our own international-standard factory.

How big is the healthy food industry in Russia?

The healthy-food market in Russia is large, as you would expect of a country with a population of upwards of 146 million, and expanding rapidly. In 2014, BioFoodLab had a 4.3 per cent share of the healthy-snacks market. Our market share has tripled since that time. Market growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future due to the popularisation of urban sports in the country. BioFoodLab actively supports efforts to develop sports nationally. We’re a Nike partner and were also the official snack of the Moscow Marathon, the largest in Russia, as well as major tennis tournaments. We were also the first Russian firm to be the official snack of the London Marathon.

How many countries is your product available in?

Bite can be found in supermarkets across Russia at over 8,000 points of sale and in 14 other countries, including the UAE, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Lithuania, Kuwait and the United Kingdom. We also have an online store which delivers worldwide.

Why did you decide to enter the UAE market?

We have strong international sales and the UAE is a priority market for us because the population places a high priority on quality. Despite the oversaturated market, we offer a fantastic product, and that’s why it is in high demand and resonating with consumers in the UAE. We see the UAE as an excellent opportunity for us to expand our global distribution and to introduce unique healthy snacks to this vital market.

What plans do you have for the UAE market?

Our plans include growing our presence in the UAE and potentially opening production in the country. For now, all the products we export to the UAE are produced at our facilities in Moscow. BioFoodLab products can be purchased at various gas station chains in the UAE, including Adnoc, and Eppco shops and kiosks.

Harry & Meghan

Director: Liz Garbus

Stars: Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Rating: 3/5

Points to remember
  • Debate the issue, don't attack the person
  • Build the relationship and dialogue by seeking to find common ground
  • Express passion for the issue but be aware of when you're losing control or when there's anger. If there is, pause and take some time out.
  • Listen actively without interrupting
  • Avoid assumptions, seek understanding, ask questions
Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Fire and Fury
By Michael Wolff,
Henry Holt

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo
Power: 190hp at 5,600rpm
Torque: 320Nm at 1,500-4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 10.9L/100km
Price: From Dh119,900
On sale: Now

Water waste

In the UAE’s arid climate, small shrubs, bushes and flower beds usually require about six litres of water per square metre, daily. That increases to 12 litres per square metre a day for small trees, and 300 litres for palm trees.

Horticulturists suggest the best time for watering is before 8am or after 6pm, when water won't be dried up by the sun.

A global report published by the Water Resources Institute in August, ranked the UAE 10th out of 164 nations where water supplies are most stretched.

The Emirates is the world’s third largest per capita water consumer after the US and Canada.

European arms

Known EU weapons transfers to Ukraine since the war began: Germany 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles. Luxembourg 100 NLAW anti-tank weapons, jeeps and 15 military tents as well as air transport capacity. Belgium 2,000 machine guns, 3,800 tons of fuel. Netherlands 200 Stinger missiles. Poland 100 mortars, 8 drones, Javelin anti-tank weapons, Grot assault rifles, munitions. Slovakia 12,000 pieces of artillery ammunition, 10 million litres of fuel, 2.4 million litres of aviation fuel and 2 Bozena de-mining systems. Estonia Javelin anti-tank weapons. Latvia Stinger surface to air missiles. Czech Republic machine guns, assault rifles, other light weapons and ammunition worth $8.57 million.

Tightening the screw on rogue recruiters

The UAE overhauled the procedure to recruit housemaids and domestic workers with a law in 2017 to protect low-income labour from being exploited.

 Only recruitment companies authorised by the government are permitted as part of Tadbeer, a network of labour ministry-regulated centres.

A contract must be drawn up for domestic workers, the wages and job offer clearly stating the nature of work.

The contract stating the wages, work entailed and accommodation must be sent to the employee in their home country before they depart for the UAE.

The contract will be signed by the employer and employee when the domestic worker arrives in the UAE.

Only recruitment agencies registered with the ministry can undertake recruitment and employment applications for domestic workers.

Penalties for illegal recruitment in the UAE include fines of up to Dh100,000 and imprisonment

But agents not authorised by the government sidestep the law by illegally getting women into the country on visit visas.

TECH SPECS: APPLE IPHONE 14 PLUS

Display: 6.1" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2778 x 1284, 458ppi, HDR, True Tone, P3, 1200 nits

Processor: A15 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine 

Memory: 6GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: iOS 16

Main camera: Dual 12MP main (f/1.5) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4); 2x optical, 5x digital; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps; HD slo-mo @ 120/240fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4; Animoji, Memoji; Portrait Lighting

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD slo-mo @ 120fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 4323 mAh, up to 26h video, 20h streaming video, 100h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30m; MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: Lightning

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + SIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Blue, midnight, purple, starlight, Product Red

In the box: iPhone 14, USB-C-to-Lightning cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh3,799 / Dh4,199 / Dh5,049

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

Reputation

Taylor Swift

(Big Machine Records)

What to watch out for:

Algae, waste coffee grounds and orange peels will be used in the pavilion's walls and gangways

The hulls of three ships will be used for the roof

The hulls will painted to make the largest Italian tricolour in the country’s history

Several pillars more than 20 metres high will support the structure

Roughly 15 tonnes of steel will be used

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 201hp at 5,200rpm

Torque: 320Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km

Price: Dh133,900

On sale: now

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

The Cairo Statement

1: Commit to countering all types of terrorism and extremism in all their manifestations

2: Denounce violence and the rhetoric of hatred

3: Adhere to the full compliance with the Riyadh accord of 2014 and the subsequent meeting and executive procedures approved in 2014 by the GCC

4: Comply with all recommendations of the Summit between the US and Muslim countries held in May 2017 in Saudi Arabia.

5: Refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of countries and of supporting rogue entities.

6: Carry out the responsibility of all the countries with the international community to counter all manifestations of extremism and terrorism that threaten international peace and security

Indoor cricket in a nutshell

Indoor Cricket World Cup - Sep 16-20, Insportz, Dubai

16 Indoor cricket matches are 16 overs per side

8 There are eight players per team

9 There have been nine Indoor Cricket World Cups for men. Australia have won every one.

5 Five runs are deducted from the score when a wickets falls

4 Batsmen bat in pairs, facing four overs per partnership

Scoring In indoor cricket, runs are scored by way of both physical and bonus runs. Physical runs are scored by both batsmen completing a run from one crease to the other. Bonus runs are scored when the ball hits a net in different zones, but only when at least one physical run is score.

Zones

A Front net, behind the striker and wicketkeeper: 0 runs

B Side nets, between the striker and halfway down the pitch: 1 run

C Side nets between halfway and the bowlers end: 2 runs

D Back net: 4 runs on the bounce, 6 runs on the full

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

How to help

Call the hotline on 0502955999 or send "thenational" to the following numbers:

2289 - Dh10

2252 - Dh50

6025 - Dh20

6027 - Dh100

6026 - Dh200

Neymar's bio

Total club appearances 411

Total goals scored 241

Appearances for Barca 186

Goals scored for Barca 105

MATCH INFO

Karnataka Tuskers 110-5 (10 ovs)

Tharanga 48, Shafiq 34, Rampaul 2-16

Delhi Bulls 91-8 (10 ovs)

Mathews 31, Rimmington 3-28

Karnataka Tuskers win by 19 runs

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League, semi-final result:

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona

Liverpool win 4-3 on aggregate

Champions Legaue final: June 1, Madrid

If you go

The flights 

Emirates flies from Dubai to Funchal via Lisbon, with a connecting flight with Air Portugal. Economy class returns cost from Dh3,845 return including taxes.

The trip

The WalkMe app can be downloaded from the usual sources. If you don’t fancy doing the trip yourself, then Explore  offers an eight-day levada trails tour from Dh3,050, not including flights.

The hotel

There isn’t another hotel anywhere in Madeira that matches the history and luxury of the Belmond Reid's Palace in Funchal. Doubles from Dh1,400 per night including taxes.

 

 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now