Sales of baking products rise 25% in Saudi Arabia during pandemic

Sales of baking products rise 25% in Saudi Arabia during pandemic
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Overall, the baking products category witnessed a 25 percent growth in 2020.
Sales of baking products rise 25% in Saudi Arabia during pandemic
2 / 2
Overall, the baking products category witnessed a 25 percent growth in 2020.
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Updated 23 May 2021

Sales of baking products rise 25% in Saudi Arabia during pandemic

Sales of baking products rise 25% in Saudi Arabia during pandemic
  • An analysis of searches by Google found interest in the Kingdom peaked in the week starting May 31

JEDDAH: Workers stuck at home with time on their hands during the pandemic turned baking into a global phenomenon, with sourdough, cakes and scones among the most commonly discussed topics around the world.

In last two weeks of March 2020, the BBC reported a 700 percent rise in people watching its video on “how to make bread.”

This global interest was not lost on people in Saudi Arabia, with searches for the word “baking” in the Kingdom soaring early in the year.

An analysis of searches by Google found interest in the Kingdom peaked in the week starting May 31.

In fact, Google searches for the word “baking” rose by 63 percent year-on-year in the first 21 weeks of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.

The spike in interest quickly transferred to the retail sector, with US multinational food company General Mills witnessing a surge in demand for baking ingredients.

“We have around 40-plus product offerings and sold more than 20 million packs last year. Overall, the baking products category witnessed a 25 percent growth in 2020, and we expect this momentum to continue this year as well,” Ali Shaikh, general manager for the Middle East and Africa, told Arab News of the growth it saw in Saudi Arabia last year.

General Mills markets well-known North American brands in the Kingdom, including Betty Crocker, Bugles, Nature Valley, Old El Paso, Pillsbury, Haagen-Dazs and Green Giant. The company’s cake mixes products enjoy a 90 percent market share in Saudi Arabia, it claimed. 

“KSA is one of the most important markets for General Mills, and a key pillar for our growth across the Middle East region. KSA accounts for over 40 percent of our business. Despite the global pandemic, which affected businesses at large, we registered double-digit growth last year, and are confident of achieving the same feat again this year,” Shaikh said.

General Mills products have been available in Saudi Arabia for about five years and the company began marketing its products in the Kingdom in 2008. Betty Crocker is celebrating its 100th anniversary in October and Shaikh said 2020 was “the best year ever” for the brand.

To mark the Betty Crocker centenary, General Mills is launching a “Kitchen is For Everyone” marketing campaign to encourage men, as well as women, to take up baking.

“We have an aggressive plan for the year as a build-up to the October celebrations,” Shaikh said.

General Mills has 10 external manufacturing and sourcing facilities in the region. About 50 percent of its business is sourced or manufactured locally.

The company is producing some of its products locally with the help of new co-packers in the Kingdom. “We have recently entered into these partnerships to consolidate our growth in the region,” Shaikh said.

With increased demand for food supplies across most categories, Shaikh said General Mills’ online portal also saw a surge in sales, as movement was restricted, and many residents could not get to their local supermarket.

“E-commerce has been an eye-opener for us during the pandemic. It is the biggest growth channel driven by the rise of in-home consumption as consumers are avoiding stepping out of their homes for fear of contracting infection,” Shaikh said. “In the KSA, e-commerce has witnessed a 100 percent increase,” he added.

The global cake mixes market alone was valued at $972.3 million in 2019 and is expected to reach $1.135 billion by the end of 2026.