Dubai snacks firm SMITHS eyes Asia expansion with products pandering to consumer flavour preferences and clean-eating trend

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Dubai snacks brand SMITHS is eyeing a bigger share of the Asian market. ©Saigol & Gulf
Dubai snacks brand SMITHS is eyeing a bigger share of the Asian market. ©Saigol & Gulf

Related tags Uae Middle east snacking trends Snacks

Dubai-based snacks firm SMITHS is pursuing a bigger share of the Asian market by banking on its long brand history, and introducing products that are cleaner and tapping on evolving flavour trends.

In 1982, Saigol & Gulf’s founder collaborated with UK snacks firm Smith’s and started production in the UAE under the brand name of SMITHS.

Today, SMITHS claims to be a leading snacking brand in the Middle East, with ambitions to build a bigger presence in the Asian market.

“We make potato chips that are made from 100% potato. The best-performing ranges are Square Crisps and Baked Corn. We have classic flavours like curry, and salt and vinegar, and newer ones like tomato. In Asia, the Qrakers line does very well.

“At Gulfood, one of our biggest launches is the Honey Butter flavour for Baked Corn. It has a sweet and savoury taste designed with Asian markets in mind. We will be expanding this flavour line very soon,” ​Nadir Saigo, CEO of Saigol & Gulf, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

While the honey butter craze first sparked in South Korea and subsequently spread across Asia, Saigo said that the flavour has also gained traction among Middle Eastern consumers.

SMITHS hopes to bank on its reputation as a long-standing and trusted brand to enter markets including Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

“The majority of our end customers are children, so we make sure that we do not use artificial preservatives, colours and flavourings. We have certifications from HACCP and ISO. When people buy from us, they know that they are getting safe products. As a company that has been around for over 40 years, that in itself is a testament to our quality.

“Going forward, we look to export to more and more countries. This April, we will be participating in a major food trade show in Singapore as part of the Dubai Pavilion, and we aim to reach out to a wider audience in the region.”

NPD focus areas

Although healthy snacking is a current global trend, Saigo does not see the need to blatantly display it on the product packaging to attract eyeballs.

“Healthy snacking doesn’t have to have a banner on the packet. A good-quality product doesn’t have to scream that it is keto, gluten-free, or what have you, to be popular.

“This is why brand reputation is important. Consumers tend to look for and buy from companies that have been operating for a couple of decades because they feel assured of receiving the best-quality product,” ​he reiterated.
Nevertheless, SMITHS will continue to focus on “keeping products as healthy and clean as possible”.

Most of our products are good for children to eat. A lot of them are well under 100 calories. I wouldn’t proclaim that this is the way forward, but it is the most conservative way of bringing healthy eating into a household and letting children enjoy snacks.”

The brand introduces four to five new flavours annually. In the next few years, it plans to expand its variety of sweet flavours to include caramel, matcha, and more.

“We rolled out Ghost Pepper flavour and Habanero flavour last year, which did very well. Some might have thought that they were too niche for the Middle East market, but they have been a hit since launch.

“In addition, we are definitely looking to add to our best-selling Baked Corn range, as well as smaller packaging sizes to make them more palatable for children. Our R&D team is very hard at work on this.”

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