Expansion aspirations: Agthia eyes further snacking gains in international date markets after successful H1FY2023

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Agthia is looking to expand further in major date-consuming markets worldwide after a profitable first half of the year. ©Getty Images
Agthia is looking to expand further in major date-consuming markets worldwide after a profitable first half of the year. ©Getty Images

Related tags Agthia Middle east expansion Snacks

Middle East food and beverage heavyweight Agthia is looking to expand further in major date-consuming markets worldwide after a profitable first half of the year, with plans to boost production and processing capabilities already in motion.

Agthia recently announced its H1FY2023 financial results, reporting 10.3% revenue growth year-on-year to AED2.2bn (US$599mn) and 6.6% profits growth year-on-year to AED144.1mn (US$31.6mn).

The firm’s snacking business was cited as a major contributor to this growth with an overall 45.2% increase year-on-year primarily led by its dates brands Date Crown, BMB and Abu Auf.

“Q2 is traditionally a slower period for dates, and this year we still saw 37.6% growth in revenue,”​ Agthia CFO Sherif Elfaham told the floor during the firm’s investors call.

“This was [led by] product and packaging innovation in dates such as chocolate-enrobed dates, which led to volume growth that far outpaced the underlying snacking category particularly across mid and high value ranges.

“The revenue contributed by the BMB and Abu Auf brands collectively was AED269mn (US$73.2mn).”

This achievement has triggered the company to look at expanding this success elsewhere too, naturally first setting its sights on markets that already traditionally already consume and are familiar with dates as a regular grocery addition.

“Key international date markets [outside of the Middle East] include India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil, and across these we are seeing a premiumisation shift in demand,”​ he added.

“This combined with a growth in date varieties and innovative packaging formats is driving the shift from what used to be viewed more as a bulk item to a more retail focus, plus there is also strong demand for more value-added ranges.

“Agthia has recently installed new chopping, powder and paste lines [for date processing] as well as capacity expansion for chocolate date production - this is expected to support our continued growth in the UAE as well as internationally during the second half of 2023 and beyond.”

The firm also reaffirmed its international ambitions by highlighting the launch of its new AED200mn (US$54mn) corporate venture capital fund Agthia Ventures, funded by Agthia and Abu Dhabi investment firm ADQ.

“This capital is ready for deployment, and we are looking for branded products and emerging food and value chain technologies globally for this venture,”​ Agthia CEO Alan Smith said.

“This can include snacks and beverages, novel ingredients and proteins, innovative packaging solutions and more – the aim is to expand our innovation capabilities and drive profitable growth in new and existing markets for us.”

Trouble persists in Egypt

Despite its positive performance in the first half of 2023, trouble persisted for the firm in Egypt as a result of the country’s ongoing economic crisis and major currency devaluation.

The impacts of this were most strongly felt in Agthia’s protein and frozen product businesses.

“Revenue across our Protein and Frozen segment declined 13% year-on-year in this half predominantly [due to] the continuing currency headwind in Egypt,”​ Elfaham said.

“If the foreign currency exchange impact is excluded, the segment actually saw revenue growth of 21.3% overall.

“This is particularly clear when considering local currency revenue growth alone which grew 42.5% in H1FY2023 – this was supported by robust pricing and a favourable mix in Protein as well as a strong performance from frozen vegetables.”

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