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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Shoppers urged to choose local produce in Ramadan sales push

Opting for domestic goods means a less carbon footprint and support for homegrown UAE companies

A shopper walks through the fresh produce section of Spinneys' Karama shop in Dubai. Christopher Pike / The National Reporter
A shopper walks through the fresh produce section of Spinneys' Karama shop in Dubai. Christopher Pike / The National Reporter

Supermarkets are in the midst of one of their busiest periods as shoppers stock up ahead of Ramadan - and shoppers are being urged to buy local rather than imported produce where they can.

Sales of certain products like Vimto – which many people use to break their fast – soar in the days immediately preceding the start of the Holy Month.

“We have seen sales up over 500 per cent on a number of lines,” said Matt Frost, chief executive officer, of Spinneys, which experiences a 15 to 20 per cent jump in sales in the run up to Ramadan.

“I suppose one would definitely be Vimto. It’s a big line at this time of year and we have seen a significant increase in that.”

The chain, which has about 70 stores nationwide that employ more than 3,500 people, is using the jump to promote more local brands.

Spinneys stocks around 3,000 UAE lines, such as Hunter Foods, Coffee Planet, Camelicious, and local growers, which produce organic produce.

And it promoting them more heavily this Ramadan – with good results.

Brands it is plugging include Arabian Delights Chocolate, the camel milk company, Camelicious and Fit Fresh, a Dubai company which produces cold pressed juice.

“It’s not like we don’t work with them the rest of the year. It’s just that we have worked especially hard this year to make sure the offer and the range we put in front of our customers is what they expect at this time of year,” said Mr Frost.

“And being a producer ourselves, we have done a lot of work in our factories as we responding to changes during that time.”

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Mr Frost said Spinneys has spent much more time planning for Ramadan this year, particularly the week running up to it.

“We have seen significant increases in every day lines which people buy as they go into Ramadan, so things like our honey cake, we have seen sales up by over 200 per cent in that line, which bearing in mind we sell a lot of honey cake all of the time, is very encouraging,” he added.

The supermarket is working hard to expand the range and source new products locally, which includes a giftable packs of camel cookies that are doing particularly well right now.

But the brand also produces its own products both in-store and in factories, and has expanded the range recently – including some that it has made especially for Ramadan.

“We have brought some perennial favourites back, like beetroot hummus,” said Mr Frost.

“But we have developed a lot of different products, like mana'eesh, tartlets, on the counter we have developed a freekeh salad which is selling particularly well and driving a lot of sales in that particular area.”

Sales will drop back to normal as Ramadan begins, added Mr Frost, although trading patterns change. But there will be another peak as we approach Eid.

“Generally we see [another] peak as we leave Ramadan going into Eid, but during the rest of the time it is generally relatively static, with people shopping at different times of the day,” he said.

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