Durrani said that Pakistan had the advantage of being one of the closest trading partners to the UAE, which is a massive importer of foodstuffs from vegetables to meat and frozen goods.
Time to triple
“There is scope to triple the amount food exports. All we need to do to start aggressive marketing of our products here [in the UAE],” the ambassador said.
One of the leading exporters of foods to the Gulf, last year Pakistan sent produce worth US$2.2bn to the UAE and its neighbours.
With such a solid and established base in place, Durrani then called on Pakistani companies to open their own retail stores in the country to capture even more market share.
He also stressed the need for Pakistani companies to introduce certified organic and halal food products with value addition and product innovation.
The country needs organic and halal-certified canned products, especially energy drinks, vegetarian foods, meat and poultry, canned fruits, gourmet foods, juices, dairy products and easy-to-cook products, he said.
Poultry now allowed
In February, Pakistan received a fillip when the UAE announced it plans to end the ban that had been in place for poultry imports since 2005. The block is expected to be lifted after an inspection of Pakistan’s poultry infrastructure by a team of UAE food inspectors.
Analysts believe that Pakistani exporters have lost export opportunities to a tune of over half a billion dollars since the ban came in, and Durrani expects the volume of food trade between the two countries to grow by up to US$200m per year once it comes to an end.
In January, Saudi Arabia also signalled it would restore imports of poultry products from Pakistan after a technical-level delegation of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority said it was satisfied with the quality of poultry produced in Pakistan.