GULFOOD MANUFACTURING 2018

Vast untapped markets, providing upmarket products…Africa a lucrative alternative for GCC firms to expand

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Mohammad Ateeq Khan, sales and marketing manager (thermoforming division) at Al Jabri Plastic.
Mohammad Ateeq Khan, sales and marketing manager (thermoforming division) at Al Jabri Plastic.

Related tags: Packaging, Yogurt, Beverages

Some GCC firms are seeking fortune in the African continent as market competition in the GCC’s food and beverage packaging industry intensifies.

Dubai-based Al Jabri Plastic is one such company.

Founded in 1996, it started out as a blow-filling packaging firm, and later expanded to provide thermoforming services for the food and beverage manufacturing industry.

FoodNavigator-Asia ​spoke to Mohammad Ateeq Khan, sales and marketing manager (thermoforming division) during the Gulfood Manufacturing show.

Although Khan has declined to reveal exact percentage figures, he said that out of the total 40 markets that the firm served, Africa was its biggest market, “especially in central and eastern Africa.”

Its other customers come from the GCC and Europe.

“The GCC market is highly competitive. The margin has dropped, there are too many manufacturers, and the market is now shrinking, that is why we need to find new markets,” ​he explained.  

“In Africa, there are some countries which are still untouched, but the demand is there, so we are exploring more African markets. It is actually a very big market.”

Asked how the firm intends to navigate the African continent, he said that catering to the needs of the affluent consumers would be key.

For instance, the firm will focus on providing packaging for yogurt products.

“For Africa, yes, you can say that we are catering to the premium packaged yogurt market.”

“It is very difficult to judge (Africa as a whole), each country has its own economy, and the GDP make-up is different. In the case of the African markets, yogurt is a premium product, not everyone can afford it. However, there is one class who can buy and are able to pay a high price for it.” ​ 

“There is a dairy industry in every country, and so we are catering to the dairy industry in the whole African region.”

Production

Al Jabri Plastic mainly provides thermoform and blow-filled-seal food and beverage packaging for dairy companies, the HoReCa sector, and traders. 

Each month, its two plants in Dubai are converting a total of over 900 tonnes of raw materials into finished products, Khan said.

“For blow filling, we are targeting chips, sugar, popcorn, and beverage industry,” ​he said.

“In the future, we are planning to expand thermoforming division, to add more machines, and to make new plastic cup products to meet demands.”

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