The Cheese market in Saudi Arabia is a large, attractive and growing one and presents opportunities for Irish cheese and dairy ingredients suppliers according to Michael Hussey, of Bord Bia’s Consumer Foods Division.

In a recent review of the cheese market in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia he said it was worth 5.7 billion Saudi Rials (SAR) (€1.14 billion) in 2013. The market, which is growing at 5% CARG at constant prices, is divided into Natural & Processed cheese (see table below). According to forecasts, processed cheese will grow at a faster pace than natural and will account for close to 60% of the market by 2018.

Hussey noted that there has been a focus on new product development with Deemah-United Foods, Saudi New Zealand Milk Products and Lactalis International all launching new products with new flavours. This, along with big advertising campaigns, meant that the market grew by 15% in value terms in 2013.

He also outlined that spreadable processed cheese saw the strongest growth–19%–as other companies followed the lead of Almarai, which introduced flavoured cheeses in 2012. Cheese slices are the most popular other type of processed cheese, and here too, innovation is driving growth, with low fat and new flavours being launched. Cheese triangles are also making a comeback and have grown this segment.

The major players in the market include Almarai which has a market share of 22.4%, followed by Kraft at 12.2%, Fromageries Bel (Kiri brand) at 11.1%, Deemah-United Food Industries (Pride brand) at 8.8% and Danya Foods (Puck brand) at 7.3%.