Another Sweet Year for Carbonates in MENA
14 November 2013
Carbonates consumption in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has seen increasingly impressive growth, and 2012 was no different. According to Canadean’s 2013 MENA Soft Drinks Market Digest Reports, global trends such as contracting consumer spending levels and growing wellness concerns have not had the same negative effect on carbonates sales in the MENA region. In a region plagued by civil unrest in the key markets, it is intriguing that sales of a non-essential beverage are growing so strongly. Egypt, the leading market, although scarred by domestic trauma throughout the year, still saw its carbonates volumes increase by around a fifth.
In many MENA markets carbonates are considered an essential part of a meal, even when at home. In Iran and Saudi Arabia per capita consumption - notably during meals - remains high, regardless of rising wellness concerns and negative propaganda.
Despite growing health awareness, consumers still prioritise taste over calorie content. In Saudi Arabia the propensity is for regular calorie colas, which are sweeter in flavour. Meanwhile Tunisians, consider the improved sugar taste of regular carbonates outweighs the health benefits of low calorie options. Whereas some MENA markets have low calorie shares as high as 15% - namely Qatar - these are countries that are small and yet have high per capita consumption levels, and importantly, high Western expat levels.
Carbonates consumption also remains intrinsically high due to the prevalence of the Muslim religion and Islamic governments, which limit alcohol consumption. This situation has, in turn, driven the malt flavour segment to perform well in some markets with products that ‘mimic’ beer.
Each year the numbers of pilgrims visiting Mecca increases and, as a result away from home carbonates sales are showing impressive growth in Saudi Arabia during the period of Hajj, which in 2012 fell during the key late summer consumption months. Given this energised landscape, carbonates consumption is set to continue to prosper.
This information is based on findings from the Canadean reports: ‘Egypt Soft Market Digest Report 2013’, ‘Iran Soft Market Digest Report 2013’, ‘Qatar Soft Market Digest Report 2013’, ‘Saudi Arabia Soft Market Digest Report 2013’ and ‘Tunisia Soft Market Digest Report 2013’, all published in October 2013.
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