Halal food is the norm here in the UAE, so it’s no wonder that it’s considered is a global market leader in the industry.
“In the UAE alone, we have a Dh69 billion halal food industry, whose products are prepared for domestic consumption or for export and re-export to various countries around the world,” says Abdulla Abdul Qader Al Maeeni, Director-General of ESMA, or the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology.
ESMA certification standards are considered the global benchmark for halal food operations worldwide.
“As a strategic hub for halal products between the East and the West, we process halal food products weighing a total of 16 billion kilogrammes, including meat and poultry, and a sizeable proportion are exported and re-exported abroad,” says Al Maeeni.
Wahid Kandil recognised this more than ten years ago when he moved the headquarters of his Canadian company Prairie Halal Foods to Jebel Ali Free Zone.
He says Dubai has a solid reputation as a halal food hub. “It’s open for business, there’s a culture for encouraging business here, obviously it’s very modern, there are all these new restaurants happening all the time, all high-end openings and from here you can move a product, export it somewhere else because you’ve showcased it here,” says Kandil.
While still considered a niche market globally, it’s continuing to see strong growth at around 16 per cent annually, with a current estimated value of $667 million, according to the Global Halal Industry Overview report by Edbiz Consulting with Nasdaq OMX Global Indexes.
The GCC’s halal sector is now worth $50 billion, according to market analysts Farrelly and Mitchell.
Saudi Arabia’s food and hospitality sectors is seeing a particularly vigourous growth in trade in response to an increased focus on tourism. Prairie Halal Foods was ahead of the curve once again.
Kandil has set up operations importing his high-quality Canadian beef and veal into the kingdom, as well as a host of other products through his other company Simply Gourmet.
“The premium end is definitely growing in Saudi Arabia,” says Kandil. “There are quite a few high end restaurants opening operations there. There are more five star hotels opening there.”
Egypt's Kamena Products Corporation is also focused on expanding its offering of condiments. Its regional export sales manager Samy Anton says the company has been able to develop flavours that suit Middle East tastes and preferences and want to sell them more widely.
“We hope to reach out to our markets of interests such as Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait, in addition the African nations such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya, Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda,” says Anton.
Anton says Kamena are visiting Dubai for the Gulfoods Manufacturing tradeshow to help forge those new trade relationships.
“We believe that the Gulfood Manufacturing, as one of the most important events for the food industry in the Middle East, will assist our company in achieving our expansion strategy and help increase our international client base in the Middle East,” says Anton.
Event organisers recognise that the UAE’s reputation as a world leader in the halal industry means Dubai is well-placed to host this exhibition, but that the emirate reaps the reward accordingly.
“Influential manufacturers and leading halal food supply chain professionals now increasingly see the benefit of exhibiting at Gulfood Manufacturing,” says Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions and Events Management, DWTC.
“With 1,600 global suppliers of latest food ingredients, processing, packaging and logistics solutions making their way to the show, I believe this platform undoubtedly helps the emirate achieve its objective of becoming the capital of the Islamic Economy bolstered by its trade of halal goods”, she adds.
Gulfood Manufacturing 2017 will run from 10am to 6pm today, October 31 and tomorrow, November 1, and from 10am to 5pm on November 2. The show is primarily open for F&B trade professionals and visitor attendance is free of charge.