Nestle, the largest food and beverage company in the world, plans to gear up its regional expansion and invest US$400 million (Dh 1.4 billion) in the Middle East during the next three years as it expects emerging markets to play a bigger role.
Paul Bulcke, the chief executive officer of Nestle, said emerging markets saw about 35 billion Swiss francs in turnover last year, which represents about 35 per cent of global turnover. He expects this to reach 45 per cent in the coming years, as the population and spending power increases, particularly in the Middle East.
"The Middle East, with its 200 million inhabitants, holds great promise for Nestle, and we have been seeing steady growth over the years," he said.
Mr Bulcke's comments come at the official inauguration of its Dh500m factory in Dubai's Technopark, the first confectionery-making facility the consumer goods giant has launched in about a decade.
Since Nestle Middle East set up an office in the region in 1997, it has invested more than $400m, and it plans to invest another $400m in the next three years in new production lines, and new factories, in places such as Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia, said Fritz Van Dijk, Nestle's executive vice president and zone director for Asia, Oceania, Africa and Middle East.
Last year, Nestle's business in the region, contributed approximately $1.5bn in sales, representing between 1.5 per and 2 per cent of global turnover.
Regional sales are expected reach $3.2bn by 2017, said Yves Manghardt, the chairman and chief executive of Nestle Middle East.
The Dubai factory, measuring 515,000 square feet, began producing Kit Kat chocolate bars in October. It also produces Nido powdered milk and Pure Life bottled water.