Yaza spreads the word about labneh with brand launch

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Yaza
Image Credit: Yaza

Related tags dips Hummus Startup company Greek yogurt

Tapping into the demand for snacking occasions and culturally inspired foods, food brand Yaza launched in the US last week, as it prepares to spread the word of labneh to a wider audience, Christian Karim Khalil told FoodNavigator-USA.

Yaza offers a strained yogurt​, available in Plain, Za’atar & Olive Oil, and Spicy Chili flavors, and can be purchased at select retailers in the Northeast, primarily in New York. The idea to launch the brand came after Khalil traveled to the US and noticed that labneh wasn’t broadly commercially available. 

"Upon moving to the U.S. I realized labneh was hard to come by, and when I could find it, it was nothing like what I grew up eating as it was filled with preservatives and sugars. I started making it for myself, friends, and family, and now I’m excited to offer a clean, traditional labneh to individuals and families across the country,​” Khalil said in a press release. 

Yaza looks to tap into the growing demand for dips, spreads

Yaza wants to educate consumers on the multi-faceted nature of labneh but is first marketing it as a dip to get consumers used to the product, Khalil explained. The product will initially launch in 12 oz. containers, but Yaza is working to develop snack pack options to provide more occasions for consumers to get familiar with the product, he added. 

Labneh is something that we eat back home, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that we eat as a dip as a spread that we cook with. So, it's a good condiment on the sandwich, but it's also a good snacking dip. It's a good breakfast option for children,​” Khali said. “There are so many options where you can use that, [but] it's harder to educate the consumer on that. So, we're marketing it as a dip, and hoping people learn along the way.​” 

Yaza is differentiating its product as a clean-label option, as companies that have brought labneh  to the US often blend pasteurized milk "with chemicals and powders and ... thickeners to make it thick, and to make it look like labneh, but none of it tastes like the real labneh,​" Khalil said.

"Our plain labneh, the original one only has two ingredients: pasteurized culture milk and salt,​"  Khalil said. "For the flavors that's more than more than two ingredients. But if you look at any other of our competitors, they have a list of maybe 10 lines of ingredients. And that's something we're proud of. That's something compared to any other product in the markets, any other dip in the market, where we're ... one of the cleanest products out there.​” 

Growing beyond the Northeast 

To expand Yaza beyond its initial 100 stores, Khalil is aggressively looking at retail distribution and plans to be available in almost every major city within six months, he added.  

"We're being very aggressive. Because we're the first that have such a product. We don't want to give the opportunity for anyone else to take over our innovations. We believe that other people are going to copy... and maybe bigger companies with bigger marketing budgets, and if we're not aggressive enough, they'll kick us out.​"        

Yaza is promoting labneh and its product through several traditional marketing methods, including digital channels and in-store promotions and demos during Labor Day weekend. On the digital front, a popular Lebanese food blogger visited the Yaza headquarters, which drove positive brand engagement and awareness, Khalil explained.

"In five years, we want to be the nationwide go-to brand for labneh,​" Khalil said. "For the next year, we just want to get into into as many stores as possible, and we want to make sure we cover nationwide.​"

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