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Mon 29 Jun 2009 12:16 AM

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Britannia eyes UAE biscuit market

Indian food company takes major stake in UAE’s Strategic Foods International, with Nutro brand set for re-launch.

Britannia Industries Limited (BIL), one of India's largest food companies, has expanded its UAE operations by taking a 70 percent stake in Strategic Foods International Co. Ltd. (SFIC), one of the GCC's largest biscuit and wafer manufacturing firms.

The investment is part of the organisation's campaign to capture the lion's share of the UAE's biscuit market, worth an estimated AED500 million a year.

The biscuit and wafer giant's growth stategy, which generates annual revenues in excess of AED2.57 billion, is being underpinned by the re-launch of its Nutro label after an investment of AED4 million.

Research commissioned by BIL revealed that Nutro products, especially Nutro Family Choice Wafers and Nutro Glucose products, are among the brand's most favoured among shoppers.

"The UAE and wider GCC countries are extremely important markets for us," said Vinita Bali, Managing Director at BIL.

"Our investment of over AED75 million in the region in the two years since we've expanded here shows our commitment and dedication. UAE is particularly significant for us given the progress it has enjoyed in the last decade and considering it is home territory for SFIC."

The UAE would appear to offer fertile ground for BIL's expansion programme where biscuit and wafer consumption is high. The country's population of around five million is responsible for eating its way through 6 kg of biscuits and wafers per capita each year, and it contributes 20 percent by value and 17 percent by volume to the total consumption in the GCC.

In total, 50 of the Nutro label's products have had their recipes and presentation revitalised, with point-of-sale pricing remaining unchanged.

Despite current market conditions Bali says research shows that when the economy experiences a recession consumers change their habits.

"This is a perfect opportunity for us, as the products we retail are everyday consumable items and offer the best value for money. This is the ideal time to invest in the brand and generate brand loyalty in the long run," she added.

The re-launch of the Nutro label has involved increasing the output of the organisation's Oman's Sohar plant, where Nutro products are manufactured.

"We are extremely pleased to introduce our improved Nutro product line to the UAE market," added Arvind Kumar, CEO, SFIC.

"I sincerely believe we have the best products in the sector at a value price point that will be very popular across a broad section of the community," he concluded.

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