31 Jan 2023 20:29

Potential for cheese exports from Russia to Saudi Arabia estimated at $5 mln yearly - Agroexport

MOSCOW. Jan 31 (Interfax) - The estimated potential for cheese exports from Russia to Saudi Arabia is projected at $5 million a year, according to a review undertaken by the Agroexport center at the Russian Agriculture Ministry.

The main competitor for Russian cheese on this market is produce from the European Union, New Zealand and Bahrain.

In 2021, Saudi Arabia imported cheese with a total value of $729.7 million.

The Saudi cheese market has a number of advantages for exporters; Streda Consulting General Director Alexei Gruzdev was quoted as saying in the review. "First, the country is constantly among the top five largest cheese importers in the world, despite the active development of domestic production of young and processed cheeses. Secondly, the demand for quality cheeses is constantly growing amid high levels of well-being of the population, a large number of expats and the development of Western cuisine. Thirdly, the country is one of the key hubs for supplying dairy products not only to neighboring Gulf countries, but also to the entire Middle East," he said.

When evaluating the entry into this market, it is important to choose a clear target segment, he said. "In particular, the b2b segments of the cheese market - melting hard cheeses and young cheeses for HoReCa [hospitality industry], as well as cooperation with local distributors who pack aged hard cheeses for retail, may be more attractive," he said.

Gruzdev noted that the Saudi market has been open for Russian dairy products since 2020, with the first trial consignments, including cheeses, shipped in 2022. For now, it is difficult for Russian producers to compete on the global market, he said. "But as its competencies increase and its export-oriented capacity develops, Russia should definitely be present in Saudi Arabia as one of the key markets in the Middle East," the expert said.