BRF official: Frozen food consumption in KSA estimated by 40% from retail stores

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Samar Yahya

Riyadh – :

Ministry of Health has been doing strenuous efforts and taking multiple procedures, in combating novel corona virus. MOH has been advising people as well as businesses since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, to commit to the health procedures mainly, frequent washing of hands, wearing facemask, and keeping the social distance among other major procedures to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Matheus Leao, General Manager of BRF (Sadia) in Saudi Arabia spoke to Al Bilad daily English on Saudi market that has been performing well given the situation and that BRF (Sadia) have not witnessed any dramatic changes in the volume of demand. Although, there has been a change in the mix of products and channels BRF (Sadia) has adopted to meet their customer demands.

“We worked hand in hand with the Saudi Ministry of Health and Saudi Food Bank, Eta’am, to provide communities easy access to food supplies and meals. This was part of our COVID-19 Relief effort to provide 1.4 million meals in the GCC region.” Leao said

BRF (Sadia) play a strong role in both retail and food service sectors, as frozen chicken is the leading category within frozen food. In general, we estimate that the overall frozen food market in KSA is 40% consumption from retail stores. Our market share in the frozen chicken retail category is 30%.

He also spoke about the procedures and necessary initiatives BRF (Sadia) took to cover all facets of business operations across multiple fronts and to ensure that production would not suffer, and that their communities are served better especially during the pandemic. Saudi Arabia was the first country in the Middle East that BRF (Sadia) established their brand in and have been present in the country since 1974.

“Food security is one of the key pillars of our company and as such we have taken action to increase safety stock to protect our business, brand and most importantly consumers.”

“Essentially we focused on placing contingency plans of our workers safety. Our people are our top priority and hence we put together several precautionary measures. We have also restricted entrances to our facilities from visitors while maintaining higher connectivity with our contractors and suppliers. Also optimizing our inventory to increase our business efficiency, we ensured higher stock levels as a contingency plan.

On local production perspective, Leao emphasized that factories delivered products at shorter lead times to control food security in the country with enough raw materials, raising awareness about safety protocols and basic hygiene when handling products. Safety education has, and always will be, the cornerstone of quality control.

“We have seen an upward trend for convenience type of products, as people are spending more time at home and are relying on quick and easy to cook food items including “Ready to Eat” product range that has been more prominent now than ever before.

“Additionally, as a result of quick frozen technology, frozen food has the ability to retain its nutrients and freshness, which the consumers in KSA are well-aware of and highly trust the reliability of cold chain logistics.“

Expectations are high that frozen products will increase in demand, as they are easy to preserve and stock up. People have been very cautious about the food products they consume in terms of hygiene and safety that also signals a change in people’s decision making when it comes to purchasing food items. “We have invested heavily in communications, especially food safety and quality assurance, relating to “Deep Frozen” food products in an effort to prioritize quality and safety.”

In terms of our investments, Leao said: “Saudi Arabia has always been a strategic core market for BRF (Sadia). This year, we will be celebrating the 10th year anniversary of establishing our own fully owned distribution operation in the country, which is run by approximately 450 employees and has almost SAR 2 billion yearly turnover.

“As part of our strategic roadmap for the Kingdom, we are working towards expanding our production footprint within the country by acquiring an existing food processing facility – Joody Al Sharqiya Food Production Factory based in Dammam. This acquisition was announced last May and will be an extension to our new production facility. Currently the factory is in its design phase and we plan to invest USD 120 million towards developing it. We have plans to start production operations in our new facility in 2022.”

On BRF (Sadia) future plans in 2021, Leao said: “we have four priorities that will strengthen our roadmap in KSA. First, we will continue to heavily invest in talent and develop Saudi leaders within our company and we have already achieved 40% Saudization. As a global company, our ambition next year is to have our Saudi chapter managed and led by Saudi nationals. Secondly, we will explore strategic alliances to further develop local production of our BRF (Sadia) products in KSA. We will continue to develop our Value Added portfolio that focuses on convenience and out of home dining experience. And lastly, we will leverage our investment in Joody Al Sharqiya to achieve our business goals by tripling its output through additional investments.

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