FMCG boom in Pakistan

Surging demand for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) in Pakistan is attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of new investments. Expanding middle class, particularly millennials with rising disposable incomes, is demanding branded and packaged consumer goods ranging from personal and baby care items to food and beverage products. Rapid growth in sales of consumer products and services is driving other sectors, including retail, e-commerce, paper and packaging, advertising, media, sports and entertainment. Planet Retail estimates Pakistan’s current retail market size at $152 billion. It is forecast to expand 8.2% a year through 2016-2021 as average disposable income has doubled since 2010, according to research group Euromonitor International as reported by Bloomberg News.

New FMCG Investments:

Dutch consumer giant Unilever has announced plans to invest $120 million to expand its operations in Pakistan. Turkish multinational Hayat Kimya has said it will invest $150 million to manufacture consumer products in the country. Earlier in 2016, Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina acquired 51 % of Karachi-based Engro Foods Limited for $220 million.

Rapid growth in sales of consumer products and services is driving other sectors, including retail, e-commerce, paper and packaging, advertising, media, sports and entertainment.

Retail Sales

Rising incomes of Pakistanis are reflected in the retail sales growth which is ranked the fastest in the world. Planet Retail estimates Pakistan’s current retail market size at $152 billion. It is forecast to expand 8.2% a year through 2016-2021 as disposable income has doubled since 2010, according to research group Euromonitor International as reported by Bloomberg News. The size of the middle class is expected to surpass that of the U.K. and Italy in the forecast period, it said.

E-Commerce

Online sales are growing much faster than the brick-and-mortar retail sales. Adam Dawood of Yayvo online portal estimates that e-tail sales in current fiscal year will cross $1 billion, two years earlier than the previous forecast. This is being enabled by increasing broadband penetration and new online payment options. Ant Financial, an Alibaba subsidiary, has just announced the purchase of 45% stake in Pakistan-based Telenor Microfinance Bank. Bloomberg is reporting that Alibaba is in serious talks to buy Daraz.pk, an online retailer in Pakistan.

Growing buying power of rapidly expanding middle class in Pakistan drove the nation’s media advertising revenue up 14% to a record Rs. 76.2 billion ($727 million), making the country’s media market among the world’s fastest growing for FY 2015-16, according to Magna Research. Half of this ad spending (Rs. 38 billion or $362 million) went to television channels while the rest was divided among print, outdoor, radio and digital media. ` Digital media spending rose 27% in 2015-16 over prior year, the fastest of all the media platforms. It was followed by 20% increase in radio, 13% in television, 12% in print and 6% in outdoor advertising, according to data published by Aurora media market research

Mass Media Growth

Advertising revenue has fueled media boom in Pakistan since early 2000s when Pakistan had just one television channel, according to the UK’s Prospect Magazine. Today it has over 100. This boom has transformed the nation. The birth of privately owned commercial media has been enabled by the Musharraf-era deregulation, and funded by the tremendous growth in revenue from advertising targeted at the burgeoning urban middle class consumers.

Sports and Entertainment

Sports and entertainment sectors are major beneficiaries of increasing advertising budgets. Commercial television channels’ shows and serials are supported by advertisers. A quick look at Pakistan Super League 2018 matches reveals that all major consumer brand names are either directly sponsoring or buying advertising from broadcasters. These ads and sponsorship have turned PSL into a major business producing tens of millions of dollars in revenue to support cricket in Pakistan. Last year, Pakistan Cricket Board’s budget was over $40 million and a big chunk of it came from PSL. This year, the PSL chairman Najam Sethi estimates the PSL franchise valuation is approaching half a billion US dollars with potentially significant revenue upside.

Downsides of Consumer Boom

There are a couple of downsides of the consumer boom. First, a dramatic increase in solid waste. Second, rising consumption could further depress Pakistan’s already low private savings rate.

FMCG products come with a significant amount of plastic and paper packaging that contribute to larger volume of trash. This will necessitate a more modern approach to solid waste disposal and recycling in Pakistani towns and cities. An absence of these systems will make the garbage situation much worse. It will pose increased environmental hazards.

Pakistan’s savings rate is already in teens, ranking it among the lowest in the world. Further decline could hurt investments necessary for faster economic growth.

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