JEDDAH: Sweets and desserts are a big part of Eid celebrations in Saudi Arabia, with some families having traditional homemade dishes, and others splurging on store-bought chocolates. With a steady stream of visitors, families make sure to lay a lavish spread.
Raneem Al-Najjar, a housewife and mother of five, told Arab News that in her family it is the norm to pick a luxurious chocolate brand to serve for Eid Al-Fitr guests. “Arrangement and the tray, taste and filling of the chocolate are my biggest concern, also colors of the packaging have to go well with my furniture and home decoration to make sure the presentation is appealing,” she said.
Since generosity and hospitality are some of the main characteristics of Arabs, Al-Najjar said “Eid is a time when we celebrate and welcome our families more than any other time, so bringing a giant chocolate tray for the entrance of our home is part of the tradition in my family’s home, so everyone can get chocolate on their way out.”
The fancy chocolate is usually served to adults, and children are given a special gift, which could be a sweet treat, toy, or money. “I like to prepare special giveaways for kids with more lively details and colorful wraps,” Al-Najjar said.
Sales for sweet retailers, chocolatiers and confectioners surge during this time of the year and they make sure to not only cater to demand, but also smooth service.
Duncan Muir, senior director of food, beverage and retail at Bateel, a luxury Saudi brand for dates and chocolates, told Arab News that in light of Ramadan and Eid’s peak shopping periods, an integrated supply chain allows for full control over production and fulfilment processes.
“From the sourcing of the finest ingredients to the creation of luxurious products, we oversee every step of the process to ensure seamless operations,” he said. “Our staff is also regularly trained and is well-equipped to manage increased customer demand during busy seasons.”
Muir added: “Additionally, we continue to invest in enhancing our e-commerce platform to ensure smooth accessibility, making it simple for customers to shop from the comfort of their homes.”
Bateel offers a wide range of gift packages that cater to a variety of tastes and preferences, including carton boxes, wooden boxes, glass drawers, trays and hampers. Prices vary depending on the selection of the products as well as the type of the package starting from SR180 ($47.99) to SR2,000.
Muir said that during Eid they receive requests for lavish chocolate tray presentations that could potentially be “exuberant in value.”
For Jeddawis, Patchi, and Chocoline are two chocolate brands among a host of others that represent luxury and quality. Salwa Jawhar, a Jeddah-based housewife, said: “These two brands used to mark Eid in my home, I used to bring Patchi for first-day visitors, it has been indeed the best choice for families in town, and for more than 10 years, we used to rely on Chocoline for Eid and other seasonal occasions.”
Chocoline is a 25-year old well-known Saudi chocolate brand with branches all over the Kingdom, providing chocolates and Eid-themed items. It has always been one of Jeddawis’ go-to chocolate brands. Neama Fadhel, another Jeddah-based housewife, said: “I thought of trying a new chocolate brand for this Eid but it is a bit risky, I like to stick to what I am used to.”
Those who get their Eid chocolate trays done first are considered lucky, as crowds flock to chocolate stores during the last three days of Ramadan.
“Over the past eight years of my marriage, Chocoline has been the highlight of our Eid preparation. My husband and I make sure to get our serving trays filled early to make sure we receive them before the 29th day of Ramadan before everything gets crazy,” Fadhel said.
The Italian gourmet chocolate manufacturer Venchi is another luxurious brand that Jeddah’s residents appreciate for its deluxe taste, despite its high price, which starts from SR590 per kilogram. Besides its attractive wrapping and pleasant packaging, Venchi chocolate uses only olive oil, which is considered healthier and safer for the body. Venchi chocolate is also “gluten-free and low in sugar,” said Hussain Attal, manager of the Venchi Tahlia branch in Jeddah.
A distinctive collection of trays available in Venchi are composed of wooden dishes, crystal trays, seashell trays, boxes, and giveaways.
“During Eid, buyers pay special attention to all proportions of dark chocolate mixes for example, 60 percent or 75 percent, and we also have dark chocolate bars with 10 percent pure cocoa,” Attal added. “Also biscuit, pistachio, hazelnuts and caramel, and caviar fillings are on demand.”