Saudi Arabia is considered one of the largest markets for chocolates in the Middle East with annual sales reaching more than SR 500 million. Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha are considered the golden seasons for chocolate traders in the country.
Apart from chocolates manufactured in the Kingdom, many attractive foreign brands produced in countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, US, UK, France, Turkey and Malaysia are on display at shops and supermarkets.
Prices of most foreign chocolates have doubled. Swiss and Belgian varieties are now sold for SR 140 per kg whereas in the past their prices had not exceeded SR 80 per kg. Foreign chocolate creams are now sold for SR 55 per kg.
Prices of locally made chocolates and sweets have also gone up slightly with their prices reaching SR 30 to SR 40 per kg.
Khaled Al-Ghamdi, a chocolate trader, said there was growing competition in the market because of the Kingdom’s economic development. “Many international brands have entered the market considering the Kingdom’s huge potential.”
He said many small companies had to leave the market as they failed to compete with others in terms of quality.
“Increase in the Kingdom’s population is another reason for growing chocolate business,” he added.
Abdul Malik Al-Hajri, another investor in the market, said there were about 22 chocolate factories in the Kingdom.
He estimated chocolate sales during Eid Al-Fitr at more than SR 2 million.
Haithem Muhammad, a salesman, said most consumers bought chocolates seeing their attractive covers and decoration and without considering their content.
Hussam Omar, a consumer, complained that chocolate prices had gone up in recent years. “Earlier we used to buy a kilogram of chocolate for SR 30. Now we have to pay SR 45 per kg. Traders increase prices because of Eid to make quick money.”
Lamya Al-Ajaji, coordinator of the chocolate exhibition in Alkhobar, said products made by Saudi small and medium-sized enterprises would be displayed at the show, which would open on Sept. 16.
Annual chocolate production in the Kingdom is estimated at 26,350 tons.