Dairy giant Saudia to ‘grow as fast as Saudi GDP’ as it delights customers, CEO says

Exclusive Dairy giant Saudia to ‘grow as fast as Saudi GDP’ as it delights customers, CEO says
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Updated 25 January 2022

Dairy giant Saudia to ‘grow as fast as Saudi GDP’ as it delights customers, CEO says

Dairy giant Saudia to ‘grow as fast as Saudi GDP’ as it delights customers, CEO says

RIYADH: One of the oldest Saudi dairy firms is betting on the Kingdom’s economic growth this year to see better performance.

The CEO of Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co. said he wants the company to grow at a similar pace as the GDP, which is forecasted by analysts to increase somewhere between 5 and 7 percent over the next 11 months.

“We want to grow as fast as Saudi GDP,” Patrick Stillhart told Arab News in an interview.

Established in 1976, Jeddah-based Saudia, or SADAFCO, operates sales and distribution depots in 24 locations across the Kingdom, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, and Kuwait, exporting to several countries in the MENA region.

It is known for its flagship long-life milk products that are becoming a symbol in the market. It also introduced other products throughout the years as it wanted to expand its reach.

The company’s product portfolio today comprises a wide range of items including long life milk, Tomato Paste, ketchup, snacks, ice cream, cheese, instant milk powder, cream, fruit nectars, butter and french fries.

Patrick Stillhart

Before joining SADAFCO in October last year, Stillhart led DKSH’s Consumer Goods business in Southeast Asia and Oceania, where he doubled the company’s size in three years, tripled the profit while improving the cash flow threefold.

During his time at Cereal Partners Worldwide, he accelerated growth in existing markets by driving household penetration, launching new products, and entering new countries.

At Nestle, Stillhart held several executive positions worldwide, from Nestle Indonesia to the Middle East and Switzerland.

Going forward, Stillhart said the business will focus on strengthening its three core divisions – long-life milk, tomato paste, and ice cream – to accelerate growth.

He is taking a very consumer-centric approach to grow the business.

As a long-renowned dairy player in the Kingdom, a key pillar for Saudia is to “delight end consumers” which is and will remain the center of all operations, he noted.

Applying the environmental, social, and corporate governance framework to SADAFCO is a major priority for the new CEO, who also said that he doesn’t see a need for the company to borrow or issue debt any time soon due to its strong cash position. 

In line with wider sustainability efforts and Vision 2030, Saudia has incorporated ESG measures to flourish the green environment, which Stillhart considered to be a major stakeholder.

Stillhart’s ambitious plans for the dairy maker come amid pandemic-driven challenges.

When asked about his financial outlook for the company, Stillhart conveyed being “conservatively optimistic” about the next fiscal year.

“Closing the year, I do not expect too many surprises,” he said, adding that costs will not burden the financials in the near term given they have already been incurred.

Profits of the homegrown dairy maker have tumbled by 29 percent during the nine months ending Dec. 31, 2021, as the pandemic weighed on sales volumes.

Addressing profitability barriers, Stillhart stressed the importance of “producing more with less” to drive efficiency whilst simultaneously delighting end consumers.


  • SADAFCO is expected to “grow as fast as the Saudi GDP,” CEO Patrick Stillhart told Arab News in an interview
  • Company has no plan to borrow anytime soon as it enjoys strong cash position
  • To “delight end consumers” is a key pillar for the company
  • The net profit of SADAFCO went down by 29 percent in the first nine months of its fiscal year ending March 2022 
  • Commenting on his outlook for the financial performance going forward, Stillhart said “closing the year I do not expect too many surprises”