The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s retail sales are projected to hit USD 97 billion by 2013, fueled by the country’s robust economy as well as several socio-demographic factors such as rising disposable income, a youthful population, and an expanding consumer base driven by more active women spenders. Food and grocery in particular are expected to maintain a strong share of the retail sector and continue to account for almost half of total annual retail value.
Saudi Arabia is the largest and fastest growing food market in the GCC region and is home to some of the Gulf’s largest food, drink and mass grocery retail companies. One segment that is gaining greater popularity is organic food due to increased consumer concerns over health and safety. Al Watania Agricultural Company, the first ISO 9001 Quality Management -certified agricultural company in the Middle East, plans to capitalize on this trend by enhancing its presence within the Saudi food market. Al Watania recently signed an agreement with French international hypermarket chain Carrefour to set up Al Watania stands at its local branches as part of a series of expansion initiatives across the Kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia is the largest economy and the top food market in the Gulf. At the same time, it is also evolving as one of the most health-conscious Arab states; it in fact has the largest healthcare sector in the Middle East. We have been observing a very noticeable shift towards healthier lifestyles such as eating more nutritional foods, which is reflected by the increase in sales of our organic products. We intend to leverage the country’s strong retail market and increased interest in health foods to further strengthen our domestic presence,” said Ibrahim Aboabat, General Manager, Al Watania Agricultural Company.
Founded in 1982, Al Watania has emerged as one of the largest agricultural companies in the Middle East. It was the first agricultural firm in the region to produce all-natural fruits and vegetables and is endorsed by EcoCert, an organic certification organization which conducts inspections in over 80 countries. Al Watania’s total investments exceed USD 250 million. The company’s products include specialized organic food; fruits and vegetables; dairy, meat and processed products; seeds; and fodder.