Foodco eyes bottled water riches

The Abu Dhabi-based supplier aims to make a mark in the ultra-competitive bottled water market with its Hafeet brand.

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By  David Ingham Published  June 6, 2005

Abu Dhabi National Foodstuff Company (Foodco) has earmarked the UAE’s bottled water market as a key growth area for 2005. The company introduced its Hafeet Spring Water brand earlier this year and says that it will soon embark on a promotional campaign to raise awareness of the product. Foodco told Retail News Middle East that it is looking for a 1.5% value share of a market that was worth around US $90 million (including five gallon units) in 2004. According to ACNielsen, bottled water sales in the UAE grew by 34.8% year on year in 2004 and by 32.6% in January 2005. “To raise its visibility in this competitive marketplace, Foodco will invest heavily during 2005 on radio, print, sampling, banded offers, event sponsorships, gifts, outdoors, listing and shelf rentals,” said Hagop Kassabian, marketing manager of Foodco. Hafeet is a spring water prepared in the Ghadeer Mineral Water Co. factory in Dibba where Pepsi’s Aquafina is bottled. Its standard retail selling price is AED 10 for both 12 x 1.5 litre and 24 x 0.6 litre packs. The UAE’s bottled water market remains somewhat unique in that the bulk of sales, around 70%, goes through small and large grocers, the reverse of the situation in most other F&B categories. Local brands also dominate the market, with Masafi widely acknowledged as the leading product. Hafeet has been listed in Union Co-Op, but it isn’t yet clear whether other majors have committed to carrying the brand. Foodco’s portfolio of brands includes names such as Mubarak Basmati Rice and Al Safwa Powder Milk. The company also has local agency rights for a number of international brands, including Pasta Zara, Taj Mahal Saffron and Jelly Joy Juice. Foodco reported net profit of AED 33.7 million (US $9.2 million) for the quarter ending on March 31, a 181% increase year on year.

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