Egypt: High fat, high protein and high brand loyalty

In common with most people in the food industry, an international business trip is an opportunity for NNB people to visit new and exciting supermarkets and discover new products. During a recent trip to Egypt, we took the opportunity to visit a range of supermarkets in Cairo. Scanning the shelves of budget retailer Hyper One (similar to Walmart), mainstream retailer Carrefour and high-end retailer Spinneys, here are some of the things we found:

1) Western-style concerns around fat are minimal. Whole milk accounts for the majority of liquid milk SKUs. This is predominantly due to a belief that removing any of the fat also removes some or all of the “goodness” in the milk, meaning that most Egyptians consider skimmed and no fat products to be of poorer quality. One example of a product that reflects this is Pinar breakfast cream, which is traditionally eaten with honey and nuts and features a 30% fat content.

2) We spotted very few private label products – even the most basic products tend to be branded. Egyptian families tend to be very brand loyal, and stick to the same brand for milk or butter brand or yoghurt.

3) The protein trend continues to grow around the world and Egypt is no exception. Below you can see promotional fixtures in Carrefour and Spinneys.

4) For a country where lactose intolerance is very common - some sources say 50% of the population may be lactose-intolerant - we were surprised to not see many lactose-free products. There are also very few plant-based alternatives to dairy. As in the west, it's dairy companies that are leading in plant-based milks. Two of Egypt's major dairy brands, Juhayna and Lamar, market plant milk lines with almond, soy, oat and coconut.

5) Bulk buying is a very common practice. This is a reflection of the fact that Egyptian families tend to be larger and tend to enjoy meals together. It is also a result of price sensitivity.

6) There is very little variety in terms of cheese in the chiller. Egyptian consumers have two main formats to choose from when buying cheese: white cheese similar to feta and hard, yellow Gouda-style cheese. Deli counters provide a wider range but there’s still lots of scope to introduce new varieties of cheese with different tastes and textures.

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