The Kingdom will remain the biggest consumer market in the region, hitting 64% by 2015, with its nearest rival, the United Arab Emirates just shy of 19% over the same period. The smallest market continues to be the small island state of Bahrain, with just 1.5% of the market.
It’s perhaps not surprising that Saudi Arabia dominates the market, with the total population of the country numbering more than the rest of the GCC states put together. This has placed the Kingdom as the regional powerhouse for many retail and supply industries. In 2012 Saudi Arabia’s population was placed at around 29 million, about 70% of the GCC’s total population of around 42 million.
Ahmed Rahim, Foodex Saudi Expo’s sales manager, said there was fierce competition in the Saudi market with significant investments in the food sector, including hotel chains and restaurants. A number of countries are scrambling to invest, notably Turkey, Britain, Spain, Italy, Japan and Indonesia, he said.
The sector is on the verge of rapid growth in the area of food and drink over the next two years.
Key imports to the Kingdom include raw materials such as sugar, wheat and barley.
Underlining the findings of the Foodex report, John Butler, commissioner for Australia’s state of Victoria announced during a separate meeting that Australia is also looking to increase its lucrative food imports into the Kingdom.
The Ambassador revealed the move during the opening of a networking session between key business leaders of the two countries. His comments were echoed by John Butler, commissioner to the Middle East for the Victoria government.
“Victoria has announced it is looking to build on its US$131 million food, beverage and fibre exports to the Kingdom,” he said.
The state of Victoria is Australia’s largest food and fibre exporter, accounting for 29% of all farm exports from the country.
The Middle East region is Victoria’s largest market for food and beverage products, including meat processing, according to Victoria government figures. The food and agriculture trade mission from Victoria consisted of food and agriculture sectors, including meat, dairy, animal feed, baby food, seafood, aquaculture, commodities and retail products suppliers, including a halal baby food manufacturer and Australia's oldest dairy company.