Food Security and Food products in Saudi Arabia (Part 1)
With Saudi Arabia’s new leadership and notable economic reforms, the outlook for foreign ventures and investment is promising. BigOnIT and Newbeans Coffee are exploring various opportunities in Food, Healthcare and Food Security in the Middle East.
This blog series provides an update on our ventures in the region, as well as the current business landscape as I see it.
Traditional Arab coffee is usually purchased in markets and souks, and what sets it apart from coffees in other nations are the addition of spices. A variety of items such as cardamom, cloves, and saffron, in addition to coarsely grounded Arabic coffee beans, are used for its making. 
The recent years, however, saw the increasing variety of coffee becoming available in restaurants, cafés as well as retail outlets and they are more similar to the coffees consumed in Italy or the USA.
In Saudi Arabia, specialist coffee shops have nearly doubled in value between 2008 and 2013, due to their aspirational image and innovative coffee drinks. The interest in specialist coffee shops is also influencing the retail market, as young consumers seek to replicate the trendy coffeeshop drinks at-home. 
And while fresh coffee is the format used to brew traditional Arabic coffee, instant coffee is the most preferred category by young consumers in Saudi, due to its convenience and variety of flavour options. In particular, young consumers are drawn to instant coffee mixes like 3-in-1’s and instant Specialty Italian coffees that aim to emulate coffee drinks like cappuccinos and lattes. Again, this is with the desire to recreate the coffee shop experience without extra effort.
Meanwhile, in Morocco, instant coffee is still the most popular type of coffee, but fresh ground coffee pods are gaining so much popularity in Morocco as coffee pod machines are becoming more available in different large retail stores, like Marjane and Carrefour. 
In Dubai, the center of development and trends in the region, on-trade sales are also growing strongly, boosted by the influx of business and leisure tourism. Despite the growth of coffee shops and independent roasters, instant coffee still takes the cake. 
In my next post, I explore trends in the e-commerce industry in Saudi Arabia. They are now the biggest mobile users in the world, and this opens a lot of possibilities in selling specialty coffee online in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern market – making it a great time for Newbeans CTAPS system to enter the market.