UAE annual food import at $4bn
Dubai, January 19, 2008
The UAE’s annual food import bill stands at a staggering $4 billion and the figure is expected to surge in the coming years thanks to the economic growth, tourism boom and the surging population, says a report.
Limited trade restrictions, high per capita incomes and growing demand from an ever- increasing population in the region is adding to the potential for agribusiness industries in the booming marketplace, a food expert was quoted as saying in the Gulf News.
Jim Meltz, organiser of Agra Middle East (AGRAme), pointed out that the diverse lifestyles of the GCC countries - with more than 200 nationalities in the UAE alone with varied eating habits - provided further opportunities to explore a growing market.
Recent research has identified plans to invest $580 billion in over 900 hotels and resorts across the Middle East by 2020 with more than 200 projects worth $23 billion under construction in the Arabian Gulf due to be completed in the next few years.
'As the hospitality industry rapidly develops in the region, the consequent requirement for food products including poultry, fish and seafood is rising dramatically,' Meltz said.
'At the same time, the requirement for landscaping and horticulture products is on a high as a result of all these projects,' he added.
'Dubai imports 80 per cent of the UAE's consumable items per year and 30-40 per cent of these are re-exported. Annual food imports to the UAE alone amount to a staggering $3.5-$4 billion.'
AgraMe, which will be held in Dubai from April 8-10, comprises four exhibitions showcasing advances in agriculture and irrigation; animal husbandry and poultry farming; floriculture and horticulture and aquaculture.