Muslim Wire

Arla back on shelves in the Mid-East

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 21, 2009

Consumer fallout from the Mohammed cartoon crisis seems to ebb in the Middle East for dairy company Arla

After a couple years of tough times in the Middle East following the Mohammed cartoon crisis, diary giant Arla has found its way back into the region’s supermarkets.

In fact, the company says its sales in the region are now 30 percent higher than before the crisis, which began to hit Danish businesses hard in early 2006.

According to Arla’s figures, sales have been increasing by about 10 percent a year in countries such as Yemen, Oman, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. It is now primarily only sellers in Saudi Arabia who continue to take a hard-line stance against the company, many still boycotting its butter in particular.

Kuwait began restocking Arla products this year, but the company is already having renewed success there.

‘We’ve been away from Kuwait for some time, but we’re not experiencing any resistance from consumers there,’ said Finn S. Hansen, Arla’s regional manager for the Middle East.

‘We have seen a bit of hesitation, but only because shoppers aren’t used to seeing our products on the shelves.’

Arla’s Middle East comeback is not down to coincidence, however. The company purchased several distribution companies in the region in January 2006, just before the crisis exploded.

Hansen said the company was planning to go on the offensive in Saudi Arabia, but conceded the market was tough to crack.

‘There’s still 30 percent of the population there that is boycotting our products, and in certain parts of the country the resistance is so strong that the products are considered as off-limits as pork and alcohol,’ he said.

Arla was forced to cut 300 jobs in Saudi Arabia due to the fallout from the Mohammed crisis.

But Hansen said the most pressing concern for Arla now in the region was the low US dollar, which was negatively affecting profits throughout the world.

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