x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Saudi Arabians slaking thirst in more varieties

Saudis are buying drink in bigger amounts and more varied content ¿ and they are switching from hot to cold.

The drinks market in Saudi Arabia is growing at an annual rate of more than 8 per cent as consumers develop a taste for new products such as energy and malt drinks, consumer research shows.

Saudi households are now buying on average 11 various categories of drinks, according to the research compiled by Kantar Worldpanel, a company that conducts consumer panels.

"Cold beverages and dairy [products], and interestingly more contemporary segments like energy drinks, malt drinks and flavoured dairy products are leading the spurt," said Ranjitha Subash, the consumer insights director at Kantar Worldpanel.

Saudis are not only buying more types of drinks, they are also buying more of them, a good combination for sustainable growth.

The research showed that Saudis are also gradually shifting their preference to cold drinks from hot beverages.

"Hot beverages [are] losing growth momentum among [their] core consumers," Ms Subash said, adding that coffee is favoured by more affluent consumers, while tea is preferred by those on a tighter budget.

Expatriates still lead the way in buying new types of drinks, with locals sticking to traditional beverages such as coffee, concentrates and laban.

Ms Subash said now was the time for the producers of these more novel types of drinks to market them to Saudi families to accelerate growth.

Saudi Arabi's population is growing at a rate of about 3 per cent a year, three times higher than the global growth rate.

In May, Almarai, the country's largest food and drinks company, announced it was embarking on a 15.7 billion riyal (Dh15.37bn), five-year expansion plan to meet growing consumer demand.