Premium push: UAE’s IBFI aims to take on global competitors with upmarket soda range

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

UAE’s International Beverage and Filling Industries expands beverage range with premium soda ©Star
UAE’s International Beverage and Filling Industries expands beverage range with premium soda ©Star

Related tags Uae soda plant based

The UAE’s largest soda firm International Beverage and Filling Industries (IBFI) has expanded its beverage portfolio with a premium soda range as it strives to compete with global players.

The UAE-based company is best known for its the Star brand of beverages including fruit drinks, water, soda and carbonated soft drinks.

CEO Ahmed Bayoumi said the new primum range, marketed as Star’s Signature Series, would help it compete with international brands.

We wanted to introduce a more premium offering that would compete with international brands like Schweppes, both from a product and packaging point of view​.

IBFI is the number one soda player in UAE by volume, and we expect to offer our current consumers a more premium experience, and at the same time, attract new customers through these premium offerings who perhaps in the past were not satisfied with the range that was available​.”

The new range features a ginger ale, tonic water and club soda with all-natural ingredients.

It cost 30% less than international brands, and is available for retail in UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Within the GCC, IBFI is currently conducting market testing in Oman and Kuwait. Work is still in progress for Qatar.

It also hopes to export this premium soda range to East Africa and North America along with its other beverage portfolio.

Plant-based developments

The premium soda launch is part of a five-year-plan​ to double the company’s food and beverage business locally and regionally.

IBFI is part of the Albatha Group, which also includes Global Food Industries (GFI), a manufacturer of frozen food brands like Al Areesh and snacking brands such as Glen’da.

Bayoumi, who is also CEO at GFI, told FoodNavigator-Asia​ a couple of plant-based product launches are being planned in line with the health and wellness consumer trend.

Al Areesh is about to roll out its quinoa-kale burger made with salicornia this month.

The project was a collaboration between GFI and the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) to produce a revolutionary range of healthy burgers.

Salicornia is a plant that grows in saline environment and has a rich salty flavour. It is a healthy alternative to table salt and is also known for its antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

The use of salicornia helps to reduce sodium content by 40% in the burger yet maintain its flavour.

The burger contains less salt, fat, calories, and more protein and calcium compared to traditional chicken burgers. It is also a source of iron and fiber and is free from soy and gluten.

Sodium reduction is especially important for people with high blood pressure​,” Bayoumi added.

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