Video transcript: IMEA Essentials Food and Beverage
Ronel Stembull: The F&B sector in the UAE, it differs from other countries in that it is quite diverse. It ranges from events catering to quick service restaurants, casual dining, fine dining and even food manufacturing. What makes the UAE unique as well is that halaal is mandatory.
The UAE has three main branches within the food and beverage sector; food service, food retail and food ingredients.
Now, if you look at food service, you’re looking at HORECA, which is the hotel restaurants and catering that mostly comprises of casual dining and quick service restaurants. But within the premium sector, chefs are constantly demanding quality product. They’re looking for a story – just because your product has New Zealand origin, that does not have enough weight anymore.
The other sector within food service is the events and airline catering. This is a huge opportunity, but companies in New Zealand need to be agile, you need to be able to customize your product to specific requirements.
The food retail sector is undergoing a significant transformation with the rise of the online platforms available in the UAE. We’re now seeing the lines blur between food service and retail, in that within a retail store you’ll get a food service offering such as a sushi bar, a deli counter, a salad bar, ice cream clubs and that’s all happening in retail. Then again, you have food service brands which are being sold in retail stores. You should never assume that your product for retail in New Zealand will be successful in this market.
There are more regulations in food retail than food service when it comes to compliance and packaging and this is an investment that must be considered by New Zealand companies.
The Food Park is the UAE government’s initiative and that will become a destination for all food and beverage manufacturers within the UAE. Currently there are just over 300 food and beverage manufacturers, that number will increase to a couple of thousand in the next few years.
Understanding the culture and how you do business in the UAE, that is a given, as with any other market. What you should prioritize is what the opportunity is.
New Zealand companies, they should consider partnering with supermarkets within the UAE. Now only are UAE consumers familiar with these supermarket brands, but it would cost less to invest in marketing and getting your brand known in the UAE.