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GCC food imports 'will hit $53bn by 2020'

Abu Dhabi, November 9, 2011

The value of food imports to GCC countries will more than double over the next decade to satisfy a growing regional population with more money to spend as the process of urbanisation continues.

New research shows as food consumption increases, total GCC food imports will reach $53.1 billion by 2020, an increase of 105 percent from 2010 ($25.8 billion).

Rising at a rate of 4.6 percent annually from 2011 to 2015 in a region low on agricultural land and natural water sources, and forced to import 90 percent of its food products, food consumption in the GCC will reach 51.5 million tonnes per year during this period.

Underlining huge opportunities for food and equipment manufacturers and suppliers, the latest estimates have been released by the Economist Intelligence Unit ahead of Sial Middle East 2011, the region’s professional business platform for the food, drink and hospitality industry.

Taking place from 21 to 23 November at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) and held in partnership with Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), Sial Middle East is a part of Sial Group, the world’s largest network of professional B2B food exhibitions which include Sial Paris, Sial China, Sial Canada, and Sial Brazil.

Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa, chairman of the higher organising committee for Sial Middle East and the official spokesperson of ADFCA said that population growth, increasing income per capita, and rapid urbanisation are the main demand factors driving food imports into the GCC region.

“GCC countries currently import 90 percent of all food products,” said Al Reyaysa. “With its population growing at three times the global average, the GCC region is increasingly depending on imports to meet food requirements.”

“Adding to the challenge is the fact that GCC countries are some of the most water scarce in the world, with only 1.4 percent of land suitable for agriculture. Food security therefore is of prime concern and major challenge for the regional governments,” he said.

Food imports to the UAE will reach $8.4 billion by 2020, a 133 percent increase from 2010 ($3.6 billion), while imports to Saudi Arabia, which currently accounts for 64.9 percent of the total GCC food consumption, will reach $35.2 billion by 2020, a rise of 105 percent from 2010 ($6.8 billion). 

Kuwait’s food imports will reach $5.3 billion (+ 130 percent), Oman $4.8 billion (+ 128 percent), Qatar’s $3.3billion (+ 153 percent) and Bahrain’s $ 1.6 billion (+ 128 percent).

Food consumption in the UAE is projected to grow by 5.4 percent from 7.8 million tonnes in 2011 to 9.7 million tonnes in 2015. With just 0.8 percent of its land suitable for cultivation and agriculture contributing only 0.9 percent to the country’s GDP, the UAE, like Oman and Qatar, imports over 75 percent of the total poultry meat and red meat consumed.

Along with Saudi Arabia and Oman, the UAE produces around 70 percent of fruits needed for consumption, but like Qatar and Bahrain it depends heavily on imports of vegetables.

“Meeting the increasing demand for food is both a challenge for the GCC governments and an opportunity for private sector players to expand within the market,” added Al Reyaysa. “The Sial Middle East Exhibition provides the all important stage to meet the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities that lay ahead.”

More than 12,000 trade visitors from 80 countries are expected to attend the trade show which will host an exhibitor line up of more than 500 food and equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

There will also be 16 national pavilions from Turkey, Argentina, Korea, China, Taiwan, Iran, France, Italy, Poland, Vietnam, Thailand, UK, USA, Pakistan, Tunisia and UAE.

It will also feature a three-day conference, a hosted buyer programme, and for the first time in the Middle East, the prestigious Sial Innovation Award. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: UAE | abu dhabi | GCC | Sial Middle East | Food Import |

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