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Wed 10 Jun 2020 01:16 PM

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Covid-19 has caused increase in snacking across Middle East

President and General Manager, PepsiCo MENA and Pakistan revealed sales of snack foods jumped 13% in Q1

Covid-19 has caused increase in snacking across Middle East

Aamer Sheikh, president and general manager, PepsiCo MENA and Pakistan.

It’s official - as if we needed any confirmation - lockdown measures enforced as a result of coronavirus have turned us into a population of grazers, according to Aamer Sheikh, president and general manager, PepsiCo MENA and Pakistan.

With more and more people forced to work from home, the trips to the cupboard or the fridge have become more frequent for most, with will-power and self-discipline making way for packets of crisps and chocolate bars.

Sheikh told Arabian Business that, across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, the company's food and snacks business saw a 13 percent jump in organic volume for the first quarter of the year, while the beverages business increased by 11 percent.

He attributed this rise to the increase in snacking, but interestingly, also revealed that breakfast has become even more popular during the current pandemic.

He said: “Covid-19 has thrown up some interesting consumption trends. For example, with more consumers eating breakfast at home, the Quaker business has seen an uptick and our snack business has also continued to perform well, with snacks grazing on the rise.

“We’ve observed and anticipate consumer trends to skew even more heavily towards value and convenience, with online shopping becoming more popular because of its ease, accessibility, and convenience.”

Sheikh said that, despite the positive figures from the first three months of the year, “there is still a great deal of uncertainty” surrounding the Covid-19 crisis, however, he is confident that the company will come out of the pandemic stronger.

He said: “Due to the uncertainty, our previous financial outlook is no longer applicable but with a strong balance sheet, highly cash generative business and ample liquidity, we believe we have adequate flexibility to meet the needs of our business and return cash to shareholders.”

PepsiCo has so far donated $5 million across the region in partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation and bottling partners, focusing on providing meals to those most at risk, equipping healthcare workers on the frontline with critical protective gear and equipment, and providing financial support for small businesses whose livelihoods are at risk.

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