Dubai: The UAE’s food and beverage (F&B) sector is expected to grow by around 4 per cent annually to $13.2 billion in 2018 as new outlets open and tourist numbers grow, according to a new report by KPMG, a global audit firm.

The market, valued at $11.3 billion in 2014, is forecast to grow to $11.7 billion in the current year, KPMG said in its UAE Food and Beverage Survey, citing data from research firm Euromonitor International.

“Outlet growth has been driven by a mix of expansion of existing chains as well as new brands and concepts entering the UAE market. The expansion has been further fuelled by the continued investment in a number of new and large retail destinations. Economic revival has also led to increased disposable income and resulted in higher propensity to spend on socialising and eating out among UAE nationals as well as expatriates,” KPMG said in the report.

The survey showed that 66 per cent of respondents eat dinner out at least once during the week. Casual dining restaurants, quick service restaurants and food courts are the most popular F&B choices for UAE residents.

The average spend on eating out per person in the UAE is Dh120, as per the report.

Takeaway and home delivery is a relatively small part of the F&B market, but it is growing, partly driven by the growth of online ordering platforms, KPMG said without stating how much it is growing.

“Brands now really need to pay attention to their online presence and have a clear strategy. The operators who are getting this right are really benefiting, as they are not only raising their profile but are also enabling their customers to be advocates for their brand,” stated Anurag Bajpai, partner at KPMG.

He noted that the UAE F&B sector is becoming increasingly challenging for individual players.

“There is no lack of eating out options across the UAE and the increase in supply, in some segments of the market, continues to exceed the increase in demand. While the outlook for the sector as a whole has probably never been better, for individual players, the market has become increasingly competitive and thus challenging,” Bajpai said.

Food consumption in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5 per cent between 2014 and 2019 as the region’s population expands, according to investment bank Alpen Capital’s GCC Food Industry Report 2015. Food consumed in the region is likely to reach 51.9 million metric tonnes by 2019, it said.

KPMG’s survey respondents were drawn from a mix of Emirati and Gulf Cooperation Council nationals, Arab, Asian and Western expatriates.