Museum of Sake Journal Summer 2015 - Page 39

FROM DUBAI African + Eastern coordinates numerous sake masterclasses and dinners, visits from brewers, consumer tastings, sake & food pairing workshops – a large array of activities to showcase the versatility of sake and prove to even the most stubborn sommeliers, chefs and bar professionals that there are so many amazing sake products which truly deserve to be on every master beverage list. African + Eastern is one of very few certified WSET Level 3 Sake programme providers, and will commence courses from October 2015 which will further contribute to category awareness and promotion. In addition to supporting the many hotels in the UAE, African + Eastern owns and operates 26 retail stores across the UAE & Oman, each holding a selected Sake range. “There are over 300 Sake brands available in Dubai, but success of the category is based not only on diversity. Fair prices which do not scare away consumers who love sake or just on the way of discovering it; fresh products which are shipped in refrigerated containers; active marketing and activation done by not only distributors and outlets but by breweries themselves - these are the requirements which lead to sake category growth”, Viktoryia comments. “Since 2013 this approach has worked and annually resulted in over 60% year on year volume and value sales increases for the sake category. More and more restaurants offer sake to their customers, and more and more customers ask for sake. The evolution in consumer perception has changed from broadly dividing all sake into cold and hot, to interest and understanding of sake grades, specialties and producers”, she adds. All of these factors show that sake is enjoying success in the UAE, however African + Eastern does not intend to rest on its laurels. “The big idea and plan is to keep promoting sake and engage customers and sake producers via their amazing products. The ultimate goal is for sake to become a fully-fledged category, and come out from the shadow of other popular beverages”, Viktoryia tells us passionately. Indeed it is a very noble and brave intention, and one that Museum of Sake wholeheartedly supports. MUSEUM OF SAKE JOURNAL 39