With Saudi Arabia ranked as the 20th largest bakery market worldwide, and other countries in the region not far behind, it’s no surprise that the Middle East has become the latest battleground for bakery companies looking to gain a foothold in the market
But companies both new and old are having to adapt to a changing marketplace. Raad Al Zoubi – business development manager, La Marquise International, tells us that “nowadays consumers are looking more at what they eat and are attracted by the promise of flavour without feeling guilty.”
Vladimir Trankovsky, VP Middle East & Egypt for CSM Bakery Solutions agrees that “consumers are becoming more conscious in their purchasing decision in regards to authentic and natural flavours,” and it’s one of the reason why it launched its Croquant Passion Temptation from Marguerite.
He added that CSM customers “increasingly seek for true taste experiences with new flavours and flavour combinations.
So the average customer is becoming much more educated and demanding in terms of the flavours they want — but they also expect the visual aspect to be greater than ever before.
As Al Zoubi says, “We are living in the age of Instagram when food not only needs to taste amazing but it needs to look amazing too. Though traditional designs have a timeless appeal, people are looking for new, exciting, and bold representations of their favourite desserts.”
But the demand for increase in quality is coinciding with an increase in demand overall — as customers learn to expect better, they also purchase more.
That has led to opportunities to expand across the region for La Marquise. Al Zoubi tells us they have opened branches in Oman and Bahrain, and plan to expand to other GCC countries in the future. A natural knock-on effect of higher demand, of course, is higher supply requirements.
Al Zoubi said: “Due to high demand in the region, La Marquise International is sourcing not only within the Middle East but also from other countries like France, Italy, Belgium, and Germany. Our products are carefully selected by the R&D specialists and high-quality products is always a standard.”
Bringing goods in from outside of the region also introduces challenges when it comes to sustainability – something all companies are trying to improve as they come under both public and, in some cases, governmental pressure to become greener.
“Sustainability is a very important topic,” agrees Trankovsky, “which is why CSM has created a cross functional sustainability team. This team aligns our sustainability efforts in all areas of business. Sustainability is thus not managed by a separate department but driven from within by the functions themselves, which is crucial as we believe.
“This way we are constantly becoming more sustainable in all our operations and sharing the projects within our team. Another big part of our sustainability efforts is to enable our customers to meet their commitments with our product offering, which is one of our core goals.”