A lack of price sensitivity among consumers in the Middle East is what is drawing international firms to the region, the MD of UK firm Burts Biscuits told just-food at the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai.
Burts Biscuits, a supplier of artisan biscuits to retailers including Cost Plus in the US, secured a Middle East supply contract at the end of last year. Its products are stocked in Zoom convenience stores in the UAE and across the wider region.
Edward Burt, the biscuit maker’s MD, said consumers in the Middle East were less focused on price than shoppers in the UK.
“This market here isn’t price sensitive, whereas the UK market is,” Burt said. “There’s an appreciation for good quality food here. That’s a big attraction for any company at the moment, where they can get the value for their products, in particular food, which we struggle to do in the UK now because there is this expectation from the consumer that food is cheap. These new emerging markets are a key attraction because there is an appreciation of what it is.”
He claimed limited local manufacturing in the Middle East also added to the opportunities for importers like Burts Biscuits.
“Even fresh stuff is imported so it’s one of these areas that is a real opportunity. Company-wise, we have been exporting [internationally] for three years, I’d still say we are very much a virgin exporter. But we’ve seen bigger success outside the Eurozone than anywhere else.”
At the end of December, the firm launched its fruited cake and novelty shortbread biscuits into the Middle East market. Burts Biscuits is working with distributors for the roll out of the company’s seasonal products such as biscuits for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Hallowe’en and Christmas
“Our distributor is working with us to launch all those products to this market so we can have a bit of a unique selling point. We’re certainly hoping to be in all the mainstream retailers here including Spinneys and Lulu as well as targeting some of the speciality retail stores,” he added.