Mondelez International,the American snack company, will start manufacturing new products at its Arabian Gulf factories as in-between meals become more popular in the region.
From June, the company that was formerly Kraft Foods, will start manufacturing its bear-shaped sponge snack Barni and Prince cookies from its factory in Damman, Saudi Arabia.
Mondelez, which manages its Europe, Middle East and Africa regions from Dubai, says biscuits are the fastest growing category among its lines.
Known as a manufacturer of Cadbury and Toblerone chocolate and Oreo cookies, the company also produces Trident and Chiclets gum, candy, coffee and powdered beverages such as Tang.
Snacking in between meals, or as a replacement of a meal, is often blamed as a major cause of obesity, and the Arabian Gulf has one of the highest incidence of obesity and diabetes in the world.
“Obesity is a complex issue with many causes and no silver bullet answers – addressing obesity requires comprehensive solutions and active participation by all, including food companies,” said Vishal Tikku, the vice president and area director for the Middle East at Mondelez International. “We do this by continuously improving the nutritional profile of our products while ensuring the products deliver the delicious taste consumers expect.”
From its factories in Damman and Bahrain, Mondelez produces biscuits, cheese and plastic packaging for products.
Almost half of Mondelez’s global packaging is procured from the Middle East.
“Saudi Arabia is not a low-cost manufacturing place, so the prices of the products would not decrease by a lot, but we improve on freshness,” Mr Tikku said.
But local manufacturing will help it to introduce Dh1 packages of Prince that was not available earlier.
From its Damman plant, which Mondelez says is the largest internationally owned food and beverage plant in the Middle East, it produces Oreo, Belvita, Ritz, Prince and Barni products that are distributed to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, as well as Malaysia, South Africa and South Korea.
The Bahrain operations produce Kraft Cheese and Tang powered beverage, which are then supplied to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.
Globally, the snacking industry is worth US$1.2 trillion, according to the research company Euromonitor. Earlier this month, Mondelez International reported an operating income of $3.97 billion last year, up from $3.63bn in 2012.
Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the UAE and Kuwait are Mondelez’s largest markets in the region. The company also supplies Oreo biscuits to South Korea’s McDonald’s stores.
While almost 80 per cent of its products in the UAE go to the supermarket chains, Mondelez took over its distribution chain in Saudi Arabia in April to enable it to reach grocery stores directly.
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