GN Focus | Gulf Food

A growing appetite for food imports

With food imports to the GCC set to rise to $53.1 billion in 2020, international brands explore more business opportunities in Dubai

  • By Sanaya Pavri Features Writer
  • Published: 00:10 February 25, 2013
  • GN Focus

  • Image Credit: Supplied

The significant increase in size and participation at Gulfood is indicative of the increasing market demand for food and drink in the region. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, food imports to the GCC, which totalled $25.8 billion (about Dh94.7 billion) in 2010, are expected to rise to $53.1 billion in 2020.

And playing a key role in this market is Dubai. The city acts not only as the host for the exhibition, which opens today and runs until Thursday, but also as a perfect business hub.

Nearly 50 per cent of the food imported by the UAE is re-exported to other GCC countries in addition to Russia, India, Pakistan and East Africa. This accounts for the fact that 61 per cent of the visitors at Gulfood are from outside the UAE, making it a truly global show. In addition to hosting new country pavilions, Gulfood 2013 will welcome the largest contingent of European and South American companies in the history of the show.

“The GCC is one of the fastest-growing global markets for Singapore and our companies see the potential of consumers’ increasing appreciation of Asian cuisine,” says Lester Lu, Regional Director, International Enterprise Singapore. “Gulfood has proven to be a key enabler for our F&B exports to the GCC. Last year, Singapore’s exhibitors achieved a record $20 million in sales through Gulfood alone. We are expecting to surpass this figure and reach another trade milestone between Singapore and the GCC”.

From down under, the Victorian government leads trade delegations to Gulfood, which have grown from 20 businesses in 2011 to 65 this year. “The GCC is one of the world’s greatest food importers and Victoria, which is known as the food bowl of Australia, has a long-standing and fast-growing trade relationship with the region,” says John Butler, Victorian Commissioner to Mena. “The region represents a larger export market for Victorian food and beverage companies than either China or India. Last year, Victorian food and beverage exports to Mena were approximately A$1 billion (about Dh3.8 billion), an increase of 12 per cent on the previous year.

Other exhibitors include 13 Swiss and more than 130 French companies. “We are inundated with requests from French companies wanting to participate in this important exhibition and now thanks to an extension we can bring more French companies to satisfy the huge market demand for high-quality produce and equipment,” says Christelle Labernède, Head of Agricultural Affairs, Agribusiness and Landscaping, UAE and Qatar, French Trade Commission, UBIFrance. French agrifood exports to the UAE rose by 31 per cent to an estimated €215 million (about Dh1 billion) in 2011.

Moreover, French beef makes a comeback to the UAE after a ten-year hiatus with French beef producers, represented by Association for French Exports of meat, livestock and genetics (GEF), taking part in Gulfood.The GEF stall promises a treat with Michelin star French chef Marc De Passorio crafting some traditional beef-based French dishes for visitors to savour.

GN Focus