Clear-headed strategy

Having penetrated the Saudi Arabian market with its non-alcoholic beer, Moussy now looks forward to targeting emerging markets throughout the Middle East

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By  Lynne Nolan Published  January 9, 2006

|~|peter1.jpg|~|“We view the Middle East as a very buoyant region. We were one of the first malt beverage companies to move into the Saudi Arabian market 25 years ago, yet there is continued potential for us in dry markets and outlets without licenses,” says Peter Skjoldbro, business development manager, Moussy Middle East. |~|Having penetrated the Saudi Arabian market with its non-alcoholic beer, Moussy now looks forward to targeting emerging markets throughout the Middle East Despite the emergence of competitors vying hard to snatch its share of the market, Moussy has forged plans to keep ahead of the game by revamping its business model and earmarking new markets. Produced in Feldschlössen Getränke, Switzerland, Moussy’s non-alcoholic beer was first introduced to the region in Saudi Arabia in 1981, and is now exported to 20 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. “Competition has increased dramatically in the last two years. We are now in the final stages of our positioning strategy and we are developing new flavours to cope with the growth of this category,” reveals Peter Skjoldbro, business development manager, Moussy Middle East. The production facilities at the brewery, which were established more than 100 years ago, have expanded over the years to meet the demand for Moussy and its other leading products, with the company now incorporating five production plants and 16 distribution centres. “We view the Middle East as a very buoyant region. We were one of the first malt beverage companies to move into the Saudi Arabian market 25 years ago, yet there is continued potential for us in dry markets and outlets without licenses,” Skjoldbro says. The buoyancy of the Middle East market has also been shared with Moussy Middle East, and at the close of 2006, it had witnessed a record turnover of more than AED100 million (US $27,2 million) for the brand. Attaining further growth for this year though, is Skjoldbro’s key ambition for Moussy Middle East. Containing malt, sugar, hops and antioxidants, and crucially, 0% alcohol, the beverage undergoes the same production process as alcoholic beer — from preparing the mash to fermentation. This is then followed by evaporation of the alcohol using a vacuum distillation process. ||**|||~|moussy2.jpg|~|Saudi Arabia remains the brand’s most successful market, where it holds a staggering 44% market share, followed by Yemen and Bahrain. |~|Although a buoyant market has helped Moussy, another part of its success is attributed to strong distribution networks and the addition of a string of new flavours over the years. In a bid for constant diversification, a lemon variety was launched in 2000, followed by apple and strawberry in 2002, then peach, blueberry, cherry and raspberry in 2004. The company is now developing new flavours to further boost its portfolio. Available across the Middle East, Moussy is supplied through a huge network of distributors specific to each country; including P Haridas Sons for Bahrain, Golden Arrow Food Marketing & Distribution for Jordan, Al Maya International in the UAE, Derhim Industrial in Yemen, and the Binzagr Company in Saudi Arabia. Sons of Hamed Y Al Essa Trading currently supply the products in Kuwait, and WJ Towell oversees its supplies to Oman, while Bilal Faraj Mohammed Bilal Co & Partners distributes Moussy across Qatar. But Saudi Arabia still remains the brand’s most successful market, where it holds a staggering 44% market share, followed by Yemen and Bahrain. Dubai presents less opportunity for the brand, which Skjoldbro believes is because most guests at four- and five-star properties are European, and would opt for alcoholic drinks. North Africa, however, is another key target for expanding the brand’s presence this year, partly due to its strong Muslim population. Emerging markets such as Pakistan and India will also feature in its expansion plans, as well as Egypt. But Skjoldbro concedes that the brand’s reign is under fire from local brands in the region. “We are faced with an inadequacy to our rivals due to our transportation. We have to send our products from Switzerland, whereas they are produced locally. So they are saving significantly,” he says. Skjoldbro remains unfazed by the tasks ahead though, and is relishing the challenge of directing his efforts towards the foodservice industry. He reveals that the company plans to employ a Dubai-based brand manager to oversee expansion in the region, as well as investing in a team of staff dedicated to the hotel, retail and catering channels. Targeting the independent restaurant sector, Skjoldbro says the company’s New Year resolution is to become more proactive, by approaching higher numbers of outlets with the product. Standing apart from other malt beverage brands has become an escalating concern in terms of how the product will look in the future, as well as the varieties on offer. “2006 was by far the biggest year we’ve had, with growth of more than 20% in most markets, so we hope to match that this year by expanding with less obvious flavours,” Skjoldbro adds confidently. ||**||

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