A Whole New World: UAE

Posted on November 8, 2017

It won’t be on a flying carpet (unfortunately), however we can show you a whole new world of opportunities for food and beverage exporters: shining, shimmering, splendid. Here we share some ‘must know’ facts and stats about the United Arab Emirates, a market that all suppliers should strongly consider entering.

  • The UAE is one of the world’s leading Food & Beverage (F&B) markets. It’s Food and Beverage market is expected to surpass US $22 billion (AUD $32.4 billion) by the end of 2020.
  • According to the IMF, the UAE is now the third-largest economy in the Middle East and Africa region and has one of the highest living standards throughout the world.
  • The UAE’s per-household disposable income and expenditure also ranks among the highest in the world. Consumer expenditure as a percentage of GDP has risen consistently over the past five years in the UAE.
  • At US $103,000, consumer expenditure per household was highest in the UAE when compared to other GCC countries; food and beverage expenditure represented 13.9% of this figure
  • The foodservice industry is a fundamental aspect of the Emirati lifestyle, with consumers regularly eating out or visiting cafés for business and leisure.
  • A recent survey by KPMG shows 67% of respondents eat out every weekend, with 3 out of 4 respondents ordering a take-away meal or ordering food deliveries at least once a week.
  • The same KPMG survey saw that 63% respondents of were spending more than the previous year.
  • Café’s and bars dominate the UAE foodservice landscape, with full-service restaurants and fast food services coming in second and third.
  • Food sales are projected to maintain a solid 7.1 per cent annual average growth rate during 2017-2020 thanks to increasing health awareness, which is motivating customers to consume more high value food items.
  • Changes in demand for premium food items, organic fruits and vegetables and grass-fed meat are expected to impact the procurement of many food operators in the future, particularly for upper-market brands.
  • It is estimated that by 2020 the UAE will spend US$16.7 billion (AUD21.7 billion) on food products.
  • Australian expats form a large consumer base in the UAE with a population of approx. 16,000 people.
  • The UAE is especially dependent on exports. In 2016, exports amounted to 72.7% of GDP. Food and agriculture exports from Australia continue to be the most important export component of trade and investment with the Middle East and North African region at AUD$3.9 billion annually.
  • The UAE is one of the most liberal business environments throughout the Middle East.
  • Due to extensive trade liberalisation and best-in-class logistics infrastructure, approximately 50 per cent of imported products are further re-exported to GCC countries, former Soviet states, the Indian subcontinent, and Africa.
  • As the UAE works to further establish itself as a tourist destination, massive investments are being made in infrastructure and other such attractions, which will only grow the foodservice sector. In particular, the UAE will host Expo 2020 that will welcome 190 participating companies, and millions of visitors from across the globe in what will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab world.

So, what are you waiting for?

Update (19 August 2019): This article has been updated with recent statistics and information wherever relevant.