How to capture the attention of a Middle Eastern supermarket

  • 08/11/2017

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an exciting federation of seven emirates, or kingdoms, each ruled by a hereditary monarch. The UAE is also one of the most unique nations in the world. It is comprised of only ~17% Emirati citizens, with the rest of the population made up of immigrants who have moved to the UAE for business. This convergence of varying backgrounds gives the UAE one of the world’s most diverse cultures.

The UAE is not only one of the most vibrant places in the world, it’s also a hotbed of passionate foodies. To help Australian suppliers capitalise on the many opportunities the UAE presents, we interviewed Kirti Meghnani, the Group Procurement Manager for Choithrams.

The first Choithram supermarket and department store was established in the UAE over four decades ago. Since then, many Choithram supermarkets have sprung up in convenient locations across the seven Emirates. With a focus on quality and customer satisfaction, Choithrams provides an abundance of products to suit it’s varied customer-base. From the freshest fruit, vegetables and meat, to a variety of wholesome seeded breads, fluffy cakes and croissants that are baked in store every day. The high-quality ready-made meals are also becoming increasingly popular, serving as a great relief to the growing number of customers who are time poor and always on the go.

Describe your typical consumer?

As the UAE is a very diverse country, we have two types of ‘typical’ consumers. The first group is predominantly made up of the Emirati and Asian population which is mostly the Arabic and South East Asian consumers. The other type of consumers we have are ‘westerners,’ which are those from America, Europe, South Africa, and Australia. The westerners are the bigger consumer for us; they are increasing rapidly and provide a lot of additional opportunities for our supermarkets.

What kind of products do your consumers like?

Western customers like to consume products that are from their home countries or anything similar, as these are the products they know and feel comfortable buying. As a lot of westerners live in the UAE for business, having products from their home country reduces feelings of home sickness.

How often are they coming into store?

Regular customers come at least 2-3 times a week.

Are they buying for themselves or for their family?

Most of them are families and buy like-wise.

How do your consumers feel about Australian products?

Shoppers envision green fields and clear blue skies when they think of Australia. There is a lot of trust in Australian products as being ‘pure’. Therefore, consumers are buying Australian products because they feel they are high quality and made of the best and freshest ingredients.

Are there specific flavours that are more popular?

It really depends on the item. People tend to gravitate towards products and flavours that remind them of home, or that they are familiar with.

Are there specific health benefits that consumers are looking for?

Definitely! Consumers are seeking products that are low in sugar, low in carbs, high in protein, organic, free-from, etc.

How important is packaging to your consumers?

The UAE is very cosmopolitan, and therefore packaging is very important. The packaging has to stand out on the shelf, convey all the benefits of the product, and also tell the product’s story to the consumer.

Want to explore the UAE more?

If you're interested in exporting food or beverage products to the UAE why not join FIAL at Gulfood - the region's biggest food and beverage trade show. Find out more by contacting FIAL's General Manager International, Ron Choong at