Food imports to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – the six Gulf monarchies of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – are expected to reach 194 billion dirhams (HK$410 billion) by 2020, owing to the region’s growing population, increased tourism and higher per capita income.
Supporting the industry’s imminent growth, Agthia Group, a leading Abu Dhabi-based food and beverage player, is leveraging its brand, sales and production management expertise to boost its product portfolio. With manufacturing facilities in the UAE, Turkey and Egypt, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange-listed company executes various marketing and partnership initiatives to underpin distinct consumer brands, including those from Asia.
“There is a lot of potential within our existing categories to expand the product portfolio and to leverage our brand to adjacent and new categories,” says Iqbal Hamzah, Agthia’s CEO. “We are open to forming partnerships through distribution, franchising or acquisition in the food and beverage sectors with companies that have synergies with our existing categories.”
Agthia, which means “nutrition” in Arabic, offers a range of high-quality food and beverage products under 13 well-established local, regional and global brands. Its agri division houses two of its three core business categories: animal feed and flour. As a pioneer in these two industries in the Gulf, Agthia markets Agrivita, the leader in the UAE’s feed solutions market. Agthia’s Grand Mills flour brand, also the market leader, reflects the slogan “Live Healthy”, which embodies the company’s commitment to food safety and a healthy lifestyle.
Agthia’s third core business category – bottled drinking water – falls under its consumer division, which houses the company’s beverage, food and dairy offerings. Agthia’s water portfolio is led by its flagship brand Al Ain, one of the leading bottled drinking water producers in the UAE. It is complemented by Ice Crystal, a five-gallon, home delivery water brand, and Alpin, a natural spring water brand manufactured in its factory in Turkey.
Anchored in a strong heritage and trusted by consumers across the UAE, the Al Ain brand extends its credible position to a range of fresh juices, tomato paste and frozen vegetable products. Agthia also entered the frozen bakery products category, marketing items under the Grand Mills Bakeries brand. Developing its dairy and juice drink product categories, Agthia produces Yoplait fresh dairy products and Capri Sun juices in its factory in the UAE. The company plans to launch Yoplait dessert and Yop yogurt drink this year.
“By profitably driving the growth of our existing core businesses, we are able to fund our new initiatives,” Hamzah says. “We opened up new segments such as juice drinks, dairy and frozen food, acquired companies, and revamped the product portfolio and branding.”
Agthia’s products are sold in 20 countries. The company covers trade channels directly in the UAE. “Our distribution arm is very strong,” Hamzah says. “We can distribute quality brands with proper brand support through our distribution set-up in quite a speedy manner.”
Agthia is embarking on a number of expansion activities. Aside from opening its newly built high-speed water bottling line, the company is expanding its animal feed production capacity and augmenting its manufacturing facilities in Turkey starting this year.
The increased capability underscores Agthia’s competence in introducing Asian brands and products to further satisfy consumer demands in the GCC. Through partnerships, Agthia welcomes Asia’s top food and beverage groups interested in penetrating the UAE market.
“The UAE offers tremendous opportunities because of its growing population, tourism and increasing purchasing power,” Hamzah says. “The whole GCC market is very attractive even for niche product launches. Production is also cost-effective here. With the right brand support and partner such as Agthia, consumer companies in Asia can introduce and establish their brands in the GCC.”