FMCG in the Middle East: challenges and opportunities
In our latest management briefing, the just-food team looks at the opportunities for FMCG companies in the Middle East and interviews the likes of Nestle, Mondelez and Arla Foods for their views on the region.
When we refer to the Middle East, we are talking about an area that encompasses a majority of western Asia and Egypt. The region is diverse in landscape, religion, politics and ethnicity. With a growing population, evolving demographic and social structures and reliance on food imports the potential for international food manufacturers is clear.
The Middle East is often seen as a bit of a golden nugget for exporters, with 98% of its consumables coming from elsewhere in the world. But Sean Ramsden, CEO of UK wholesale exporter Ramsden International, says it's not always the easiest market in which to operate, with strict compliance legislation and a focus on driving down prices. Hannah Abdulla caught up with Ramsden on the sidelines of Gulfood where they exchanged notes on the challenges and advantages of being an exporter to the Middle East.
Choithram & Sons was set up in 1944 in Sierra Leone as a business funding schools and hospitals in west Africa and India. It soon established a presence in Europe, North America, and Africa, but nowhere more so than in the Gulf where Choithrams launched its first supermarket starting with the United Arab Emirates. The retail chain now has 31 supermarkets and has grown across the Gulf with a presence in Oman, Bahrain and Qatar. But, as Middle East residents become increasingly concerned with brand affiliation, and with the growing presence of international retailers like Carrefour, Spinneys and Waitrose, how does a homegrown brand maintain its relevance? Operations director Manoj Thanwani shares some tricks of the trade with Hannah Abdulla.
The gluten-free sector is enjoying robust growth in a number of markets. It's no longer a specialist category targeting coeliac sufferers. It's become almost fashionable for health advocates, and fans in the West visiting and working in the Middle East are demanding the trend shifts to the region, forcing manufacturers to respond. Hannah Abdulla explores.
For packaged food manufacturers with ambitions for international growth, the Middle East presents an opportunity, with growing populations enjoying rising incomes. However, in recent decades, a number of local industry giants have developed, building robust positions in a number of food sectors, armed with solid supply chains and intimate knowledge of the consumers of the region. One such company is Almarai, the bakery, dairy and poultry processor based in Saudi Arabia.
After Arla Foods booked a jump in sales last year - pointing to the performance of its "growth markets" outside the EU - the dairy giant has rolled out plans to further expand its operations outside Europe. just-food's Hannah Abdulla caught up Rasmus Malmbak Kjeldsen, director of operations for Arla's business in the Middle East and Africa to find out what the company has planned for the region.
A young market which promises room to grow is a key attraction for multinationals in the Middle East, the head of Nestle's Middle East operations told just-food at the Gulfood trade expo in Dubai.
For packaged food manufacturers with ambitions for international growth, the Middle East presents an opportunity, with growing populations enjoying rising incomes. In its management briefing on the region, just-food provides a flavour of what leading food and drink executives have said about Middle East in recent weeks.
They may be growing quickly but the Middle East's snacks and confectionery sectors present a challenge for companies looking to grow their share of sales. Vishal Tikku, vice president and area director for Mondelez International in the region, spoke to Hannah Abdulla at the Gulfood 2014 exhibition in Dubai about the company's ambitions for the region.
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