The dual announcement came from Murat Tarakçioğlu, business leader Cargill METNA and Nedim El Cheik, commercial and market development director, METNA, Cargill Foods at Gulfood Manufacturing 2014, in Dubai.
Fastest growing region
“Most of our investments are still based in Middle East countries, so now we are focusing our efforts on developing countries and emerging markets in this region,” said Tarakçioğlu.
“We will represent 19 countries under METNA, which is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. We have gathered all our commercial and technical teams to offer four product portfolios; cocoa and chocolate, sweeteners, starches and texturizers, and oils and fats.”
Cargill will have five offices covering the region in Istanbul, Nigeria, Cairo, Turkey and Dubai.
Tarakçioğlu said the company partnered with Saudi based firm, Arasco (Arabian Agricultural Services Company) last year to launch a joint venture called MEFSCO (Middle East for Food Solutions Co.) to produce starch-based products for the GCC, including Yemen, Iraq and Jordan.
Arasco’s existing starches and sweeteners facility in Al Kharj has been acquired by MEFSCO and Arasco will take an 80% share of the joint venture, along with management control.
“All official approvals and regulatory agreements for the joint venture came through last month,” he added.
MEFSCO will manufacture products such as glucose and fructose such as fructose corn syrup (HFCS) for the beverage, confectionery, juice, bakery and catering segments in the region.
Oil & fats exansion
In May this year, Cargill bought Turyag, liquid oil and margarine manufacturer, which Tarakçioğlu claims is the third biggest company in Turkey with a 14% market share in the region.
With this acquisition, Cargill will expand its product portfolio of industrial fats and oils and bakery fats.
“We want to build more solid partnerships,” said Tarakçioğlu.
“We believe we can add more value to the Cargill company than others and we will use our different products and our knowledge from across the globe to launch products into Turkey and the surrounding market. Oils and fats are a lucky product line for us because it is relevant to other ones to develop products.
“With our broad portfolio Cargill has developed 12 product types, using expert knowledge to match the taste of the region.”
El Cheik added by bringing the commercial operation under one business sector it will try to bring three prototypes to the METNA market place; Belgium chocolate combined with caramel; with possibilities from ice cream to confectionery; salad dressing with CWS (cold water swelling) starch and sugar-free chewing gum with a mix of polyols (a hydrogenated sweetener which is used in teeth friendly toothpaste)and stevia-based sweeteners.
“With this launch, we want to improve on our partnerships and our relevance to the market. The customer will have one contact point for all four product portfolio segments,” he said.
“We want to be in the region and to better serve our customers, we have a big marketing group around us. We plan to develop four main themes; premium indulgence, health, innovation and cost optimization (dipped cheese and ketchup).”
El Cheik said the packaged food industry in the region is growing at 19% per year which is ‘behemoth’ at approximately $75bn.
“When you look at the GDP growth in the region and the economy and the trade which is increasing and initiatives being undertaken, ie the transport sector, intiatives undertaken by the Government of Abu Dhabi and capital employment plans in the region this all translates into more consumption and urbanization which means more packaged food consumption and ready to serve products, that is why we are here,” he added.
Tarakçioğlu said the next stage in the investment is opening more R&D centers in the region.
“This is a growing organization with a growing geography. We do think Cargill is under-represented in this part of the world and we have set the bar for ourselves at a high level,” he said.
“To meet this target we have to keep investing in our people, the talent and physical aspects on the ground. Our partnership last year with Arasco proved we were on the right track.
Further work on F&B applications
“We were the first multinational company producing ingredients in this region and we are here to develop those opportunities.
“Activities are being undertaken, two organisations were put in place collating one business unit and we have paved the way for a push in demand.
“With our service support and technical assistance on the application side, it is likely we will see further work on application systems in this region, Turkey being one and then Dubai.
“As of today, these prototypes depend on the receptiveness of the customer.”