Tetra Pak Arabia on growth curve.
The region, which accounts for about 7 per cent of global Tetra Pak sales, continued this trend in the first quarter of this year with double-digit growth of 15-20 per cent over the same period last year.
Due to its conservative estimates for global growth in 2009, the group was surprised by the speed of growth in the second half of the year, which ended with global sales of 8.95 billion euros (Dh39.3 billion).
This was a result of stronger-than-expected growth in the fourth quarter and strong demand in emerging markets which balanced out declining sales in regions affected by the global recession, according to Dennis Jonsson, president and CEO of Tetra Pak Group.
"Since 2008 we were having fantastic growth for the first two quarters. Then in August and September we were affected by two major events, the contaminated milk crisis in China and then the financial crisis.
"China is our biggest market and as a result of the milk crisis, the consumption of milk declined by about 50 per cent which had a big impact on us. We ended the year with growth that originally looked like it was going to be spectacular to about 5 per cent as a total," Jonsson told Gulf News.
Along with the Middle East, Tetra Pak's fastest growing markets include Southeast Asia and sub-Sahara Africa which saw double-digit growth.
Slower sales occurred in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the areas most affected by the economic downturn, resulting in a 12.2 per cent decline in net packaging sales year-over-year.
"Right now our fastest growing market is Vietnam, which is growing at a rate of 200 per cent over the last year. This is mainly due to the growing consumption of milk and growing purchase power," said Jonsson.
In 2009 Tetra Pak supplied a record 145 billion individual packages used by leading food and beverage companies around the world to deliver over 70.7 billion litres of milk, juice, fruits and other products to consumers. Out of the 145 billion packages, 7 billion were produced in the Jeddah factory, reflecting the buoyant growth in this sector.
Packaging solutions reached 8.0 billion euros in net sales in 2009, an increase of 1.8 per cent over 2008, while sales of processing solutions declined 3.8 per cent in comparable terms to 917 million euros.
"Production recorded healthy growth in 2009, reflecting robust demand from the food processing industry worldwide.
The trend also indicates a preference for Tetra Pak technology and its diversified range of products despite changes in the economic situation," said Martin Fejk, marketing director of Tetra Pak Arabia.
In 2009 in the UAE, 225 million litres of liquid dairy products, 100 per cent juices, nectars and fruit flavoured drinks in Tetra Pak carton packaging were consumed.
In comparison, the GCC and Yemen consumed 1.6 billion litres of liquid dairy products.a
Expansion plans in the region include new plants in Iran and Pakistan.
Tetra Pak is one of three independent industry groups that belong to the Tetra Laval Group, headquartered in Switzerland. The other two are DeLaval and Sidel.
Before the invention of Tetra Pak, milk and cream were sold loose over the counter or in glass bottles which were both unhygienic and hard to transport.
The Tetra Pak was invented in 1943 when Ruben Rausing perfected the technique of making airtight and liquid-proof cartons using plastic-coated paperboard.
Tetra Pak was named after the Greek word "tetra" meaning four, indicating the packaging's four sides.
The year 1952 saw the launch of the pyramid-like Tetra Classic package and a decade later the arrival on the scene of the rectangular Tetra Brik carton which was immediately popular because of its cost efficiency.a
Since then, Tetra Pak cartons have come to be found in supermarkets globally.
Strong year on year growth has led it to become one of the world's largest suppliers of packaging for liquid dairy products (milk, cream), juices, nectars and still drinks and now food items such as tomato paste.a
Tetra Pak started operation in Jebel Ali in 1994 as a branch office of Tetra Pak Near East that was based in Cyprus.
Tetra Pak in the Gulf became a full fledged market company on January 1, 1997 as Tetra Pak Gulf and East Mediterranean Area (GEMA).
The new market company covered the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, Leban-on, Syria, Palestinian Territories, Jordan, and Iraq. It was in 2002 that East Mediterranean was separated to become a full-fledged market company. In 2004, Iran became a separate market company.
Tetra Pak Arabia was established in January 2007, covering Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.
The carton converting factory in Tetra Pak Arabia is currently located in south Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
It supplies most of the carton packaging material for Saudi Arabia and 24 other countries in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
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