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February 25, 2014

GULFOOD: UK dairy Prima Cheese eyes Middle East retail

UK firm Prima Cheese has signalled its ambitions to add Middle East retail customers to its foodservice contracts.

UK firm Prima Cheese has signalled its ambitions to add Middle East retail customers to its foodservice contracts.

Speaking to just-food at the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai, operations director Nima Beni said Prima Cheese supplies cheese to the Middle East’s foodservice industry.

When considering financial returns, “bulk 2kg bags are so much more feasible than 250g bags”, Beni said

Nevertheless, he said it was only a matter of time before Prima Cheese would “have to” start considering retail sales.

“I would like to do it [retail] but it has to be something which is feasible for the company,” he said, before adding: “Long-term it’s not a point of would you like to do it, we’d have to do it. We’re equipped and know how to do it.”

First-time Gulfood exhibitor, Prima Cheese has a presence in the UAE and Lebanon after striking up a deal with a distributor in the region three years ago when it first attended with UK goevrnment agency UK Trade and Investment.

Beni said Prima Cheese was targeting more markets in the region. “We want to get Qatar, KSA and Oman.”

He highlighted what he saw as the growth opportunities for dairy in the Middle East.

“The Middle East – when it comes to dairy products, they like the European products which guarantee quality and consistency. Because of that naturally it’s a market for us to move into.”

Saudi Arabia is was where the biggest growth opportunities lay, Beni said.

“Half of our enquiries [at Gulfood] have been from Saudi, so it is a very big market. Other markets, if they were to open up, would be Iran – where there are 72m people – and for us we know places like Iraq and Kurdistan are booming. These are the markets we know we will be going into.” 

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