Dubai: Hamad Bu Amim, Director General of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “Food security is a very important issue for the UAE. The country imports the vast majority of its food and so establishing strong partnerships with key food producing nations is vital.”
Last year, UAE food consumption was valued at Dh26.5 billion and this is forecast to rise to Dh34.8 billion by 2016. At the same time, per capita food consumption is expected to increase from Dh3,527 last year to Dh4,156 in 2016.
Since 2007, the UAE’s imports of prepared foodstuff and beverages have increased by 17.8 per cent from Dh8.76 billion to Dh12.28 billion in 2011. The main imported products are food preparations, sugar, chocolate and products containing cocoa, bread and cakes, followed by flour, water, fruit juices and meat.
The United States is the biggest source of imports, with a 10.5 per cent share, followed by India (8 per cent), Saudi Arabia (6.2 per cent), the UK (5.4 per cent), Thailand (5.3 per cent) and France (5 per cent).
A study by the Dubai Chamber showed that food commodity prices have been generally rising since 2000. This is because of speculation by traders who buy and sell commodities for a quick profit, a decrease in the value of the US dollar and rising demand at a time when supply is being constrained due to the weather, a lack of water and biofuel production.
For the UAE, this can mean food inflation and the danger of instability in countries which might suffer from shortages.