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17/05/2017 - 07:00hs
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Arab Chamber plans to have festival in Saudi supermarket

The organization’s president Rubens Hannun suggested that a Brazilian products’ week be held in retail chain Panda. He spoke to executives from Savola, the chain’s parent company.



Riyadh – The president of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Rubens Hannun, made a suggestion this Tuesday (16) that a Brazilian products festival be held by the Saudi supermarket-hypermarket chain Panda. Hannun had a meeting with executives from Savola, the retail chain’s parent holding company, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “We are interested in having a Brazilian products’ week at Panda,” said Hannun.

Alexandre Rocha/ANBA

Rubens Hannun (L) and businessman Sulaiman Al-Muhaidib

Besides retail, the Savola conglomerate is active in the agribusiness industry – it imports and processes farm products. One of the items it makes is sugar, in addition to being the Middle East’s leading vegetable oil maker. CEO Rayan Fayez and chairman Sulaiman Al-Muhaidib met with the executives in the delegation led by Agriculture minister Blairo Maggi that’s on a trip to the Gulf.

“I think this is one of the best ideas that came up here today,” Fayez said regarding Hannun’s suggestion. Muhaidib said that events could take place in outlets in the country’s three main regions, Dammam, Riyadh, and Jeddah, and that the festival could last two weeks.

Fayez explained that the Savola conglomerate is active in three priority markets: Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran. When it comes to sugar, the company supplies 70% of the Saudi market, and the Panda network, according to him, is the biggest supermarket chain in the Middle East. “We are constantly exploring new opportunities for expanding our business,” he told the Brazilian executives.

Alexandre Rocha/ANBA

Fayez (C): constantly exploring new opportunities

He added that most of the beef sold at Panda outlets is from Brazil, but that negative international publicity stemming from Federal Police operation Carne Fraca led the company to step up purchases from other suppliers, such as New Zealand. However, Brazil remains a relevant player. Fayez made these remarks to prove his point that a merely commerce-based relationship is amenable to instabilities, hence the need for partnerships that involve investments and long-term commitments.

The Federal Police operation is investigating suspected non-compliance from meat packers and Brazilian Agriculture Ministry inspectors.

The executives commented that Savola has investments in agriculture and livestock ventures in Arizona, United States and in Argentina, and that it’s also interested in Sudan. The conglomerate also runs two widely popular fast-food chains in Saudi Arabia, in addition to owning a stake in Almarai, the country’s biggest dairy company.

The Brazilian executives presented investment projects for their Saudi counterparts to assess. Also at the meeting was Samer Al Solh, the senior manager of industrial investments and infrastructure portfolio with Al Muhaidib, the investment company retaining a majority stake in Savola. Sulaiman Al-Muhaidib is the chairman.

“The Arab Chamber is at your disposal to make these negotiations easier,” Hannun told the Brazilian and Saudi businessmen.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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