Jordanian e-platform keeping traditional food recipes alive
AMMAN - Promoting local produce and keeping traditional dishes available to be passed to later generations is behind the creation of Jordanian e-commerce platform eBas6a — “street stalls.”
Dairy products, herbs, homemade pickles and sweets are among products that can be purchased online and delivered directly to customers. The platform is designed to build an online presence crucial for marketing and preserving local production in the digital age, eBas6a founder Hussein Shehadeh said.
Shehadeh, 24, said he felt the need to protect Jordanian local products when he was studying in the United Kingdom and missed food from his home country.
“I simply craved for some good labneh (a soft cream cheese made from strained yogurt) from the city of Jerash and some jameed (hard dry yogurt made from ewe’s or goat’s milk) and I could not find any. I thought there should be a way for Jordanian food products to be available anywhere,” Shehadeh said.
After returning to Amman, Shehadeh worked in the family business for six months but the idea haunted him and he founded eBas6a in January.
Despite being a very new service, eBas6a has gained large support from suppliers and clients.
“We started with one supplier and now we have seven and a couple of housewives who work from home and they are really happy to find eBas6a, which takes care of marketing, delivering and quality control,” Shehadeh said.
“We aim to have suppliers as well as customers from all over the country with plans to approach the Gulf region and later the world.”
Shehadeh praised the public support he received as he tries to sustain the local food industry.
“The response is great. People are becoming more aware that here in Jordan we have many local and homemade products that are of excellent quality and can be delivered fresh. We are happy to have dedicated clients who place orders every week,” he said.
The use of technology by clients, mostly housewives, is one of the challenges facing eBas6a, Shehadeh noted.
“Our clients consist mainly of housewives aged 40-60 who are not familiar with the culture of ordering food online,” he said. “Using the website and soon a smart application created a kind of challenge but we are trying to find ways to make life easy for all clients by simply clicking a button to order and the products will be delivered.”
Another challenge is to provide fresh products to clients, Shehadeh said.
“It takes two days to prepare and deliver the orders because we focus on selling really fresh products. When you buy from eBas6a you will receive the products fresh with the production date the same as the day of the order. This is a unique concept that is not easy but we manage to do it,” he said.
Shehadeh’s site offers many homemade goodies, including 13 dairy products such as white cheese, soft and hard yogurt, ghee, butter, herbal products such as thyme and sumac, pickles, olive oil, jam and vinegar, eggs — including quail eggs — and homemade sweets.
“The selection is very interesting and people enjoy the fact that everything we sell through the suppliers is fresh and of excellent quality, which you cannot find anywhere, even at the best supermarkets,” Shehadeh said.
Shehadeh toured local shops and determined that more than 90% of dairy products are manufactured by large companies or imported from Hungary, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “It means that fresh is not the word,” he said.
Unofficial statistics indicate that Jordanian imports of dairy products had a total value of more than $220 million in 2016 (17% from the UAE, 14% from Saudi Arabia, 7% from Hungary and 3% from Turkey).
The dairy product market in Jordan accounts for 33% of the food priority scale. Mansaf, the most popular Jordanian dish served on all occasions, is made of rice, lamb and dry yogurt from ewe’s or goat’s milk.
“I have noticed that local products face strong competition from imported cheaper products that attract the attention of consumers who are looking to pay less but, as Jordanians, we need to be aware of the importance of supporting our local products by buying local,” Shehadeh said
There are 11 factories and approximately 80 small manufactures producing dairy products in Jordan.