Arla launches branded organic milk in the Middle East

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Arla Foods is tapping into the growing interest in organic food in the Middle East. Pic: Arla.
Arla Foods is tapping into the growing interest in organic food in the Middle East. Pic: Arla.
Arla Organic Milk is now available in retailers across the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Arla Foods, the world’s largest producer of organic dairy products, introduced its first branded organic milk in the Middle East, the company’s biggest strategic growth market outside Europe.

The launch is part of the company’s goal to become top organic dairy brand in the Middle East and North Africa by 2020.

Rasmus Malmbak Kjeldsen, senior vice president of Arla’s operations in the Middle East and North Africa, told DairyReporter there is a growing interest in organic products in the Middle East.

“Over the past couple of years, we've seen a movement in the markets down here where the conscience around healthy natural pure products is definitely increasing,”​ he said.

“Actually they had a relatively clear understanding of what organic is. They associate it with purity, natural clean label products. So we definitely see there’s a consumer need now.”

Kjeldsen noted that while there is a need, it is not a very big area in the market currently, although it is growing.

“We are the biggest organic milk producer in the world. I think if anybody has to take this on it should be us. So we decided to tap into this,”​ he added.

He said the company has noticed a general trend towards organic, including in the fruit and vegetables category, which has extended to dedicated organic shops, cafés and restaurants.

“We look to tap into this growing trend and gather crucial information about organic consumers, which we can utilize as we enter neighbouring markets.”

Kjeldsen said the Arla brand is new in the Middle East, and in the UAE the company is starting with the organic milk range of low fat, full fat, one liter, small sizes for kids, as well as the Arla Proteins range, which are drinking milks with high protein, low fat, and low sugar.

Future developments

“Later on in 2018 we're planning on launching a kids range,”​ he said.

“We are also looking into organic drinking yogurts and later on we will also probably look at some of the sustained energy ranges that we have in Europe, like Skyr, maybe not naming it Skyr down here, but the same concept.”

Other markets

Kjeldsen said in January 2018 Arla will be launching the organic products in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and later on Oman and Bahrain.

To tie in with the launch, Arla took a pop-up farm concept to show local residents the ‘farm to fork’ process.

“We've had a fantastic response,”​ Kjeldsen said.

“It’s a small ‘pop-up farm’ to actually take people through the process of producing organic milk. We've had two Danish organic milk farmers down here, veteran farmers who have been doing organic for the past 15 years.”

Kjeldsen said the same concept will probably be employed in Saudi Arabia, adding, “I think the communication task in Saudi is probably even more important than in UAE.”

Need for marketing

Marketing will be important to launch, Kjeldsen said.

“We're definitely going to do events. We're going to do a lot of social media. I think social media will be a big part of it. Social media is exploding in the region especially on the most preferred platforms like Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat.”

Currently, Arla is known in the Middle East for non-organic dairy products under brands such as Lurpak, Castello and particularly Puck.

Arla Organic Milk is now available across many retailers in the UAE, including Union Coop, Choithrams, Spinneys, Carrefour, Geant and Lulu Hypermarket.