Sidel has partnered with Health Water Bottling (HWB) in Saudi Arabia to install two of its next generation Matrix PET lines, which will start operations in February 2015.
The technology will produce 134,000 bottles per hour of Nova bottled water in 330ml and 600ml formats.
Clive Smith, zone vice-president, Greater Middle East and Africa (GMEA) told FoodProductionDaily, Sidel set up a Dubai headquarters in April last year and has grown from being a branch office with 10 people to 95 employees.
“The most important thing for usis to consolidate the HQ. It has been well received in the market and because of that we need to consolidate it and focus on customer service,” he said.
“We benefit from the proximity we have with our local customers and from Dubai we can cover the GMEA including Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, southern Turkey, Syria and Iran.
“We are not worried about the political volatility of these countries as it is more about managing our support services from place to place.
“Out of all the ‘at risk countries’ we have in our portfolio, 85% are in the GMEA zone. One of the biggest things we have done is to become specialists in managing that business perspective. For example, Libya is a hot spot and we evacuated people from there. All our health and safety policies are in place to protect staff there.
“We see GMEA as having huge potential as the market is continuously growing and we are reaping the rewards from that by being based here.”
Demand for bottled water
Smith added, according to Euromonitor International, market intelligence, demand for still and carbonated bottled water in Saudi Arabia has risen dramatically and is forecasted to grow even more in the next few years.
Off-trade sales volume of bottled water rose 52.4% between 2007 and 2012, growing from 1,063 to 1,620m liters sold, and has come close to surpassing carbonate sales.
The increase is attributed to the growing population of Saudi Arabia. The nation recorded a 2% increase in population in 2011 and water, being a necessity, drove the demand of bottled water up.
“The area has a huge potential despite all the political problems, for example, Iran is coming out of its sanctions era soon hopefully and under the right conditions we can develop our market share there,” he said.
“We don’t need to travel in and out of the country anymore as all our team is based here and we can take an order, provide a quote, and complete the design. All our equipment is manufactured in Europe but we are on hand for service support.
“An important part of the deal with HWB was that we were on their doorstep. Before, the company would take different pieces of equipment and assemble them together into one machine but it decided to move to a turnkey project with us, mainly because of the complexity of the line and to go with one supplier.
“We designed and engineered the whole thing, which is what most people are doing now any way. The resource level they need is within our business and they don’t need lots of people putting in one line.”
Smith added its Matrix technology was launched two years ago in Europe and the US but it is not available commercially everywhere and only started to enter countries such as Africa, because it has taken time to train its engineers.
Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCE) recently invested in a 42,000 bottle/hour Sidel line for PET bottles in Nigeria.
“The essence of what we do now is to reduce sustainability of each consumption; ie the weight of a PET bottle; lightweighting, the amount of PET in a bottle,” said Smith.
“Older equipment can’t ‘lightweight as well’, to blow the bottle you use a lot of energy in terms of compressed air and electricity and to heat the preform it requires a required temperature. In the past the machines used a lot of energy but now they use less and that contributes to the total cost of ownership.”