Meanwhile, demand for portable bottled water is expanding in major cities particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia due to the high number of visitors and pilgrims.
And the entry of many international food service chains is influencing in-home consumption of more traditionally western food choices.
These were some of the key findings of a Euromonitor report commissioned by the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) – the organisers of Gulfood, which got underway on Sunday.
The Gulfood Global Industry Outlook Report found the Middle East and Africa (MEA) will deliver the strongest regional growth for the international food and beverage industry, with Asia Pacific also holding ‘enticing’ prospects.
The report cites high birth rates, rapidly expanding cities and growing employment as key factors behind the high potential of the two regions, where combined consumer spend in the food beverage sector is forecast to rise to 60% of total global expenditure by 2030, up from 53% today.
“With greater distribution of wealth, growing economic and political stability and rapidly developing infrastructure, consumers have greater access to a wider range of foods and beverages,” states the report.
However, overall consumer spending on food in the Middle East is set to drop from 8.5% of GDP to 8.0% by 2030 as products become relatively more affordable as incomes rise.
The report also highlights urban millennials’ greater buying power and preferences for convenience products.
“Conversely, this group is equally conscious of their health, nutrition and diets so producers have to innovative to meet this balancing demand,” said Trixie LohMirmand, from DWTC.
On a global level, young parents in the Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America increasingly preferring products with nourishment benefits, while the ageing populations of the more mature markets of Europe, North America and Australasia are eyeing products which deliver health benefits for their bones, mobility, digestive health and energy levels, the report noted.
For the Middle East and Africa, the report states: “Cold chain services are changing consumer choices as frozen processed halal meat and poultry, cold drinks and flavoured milks increase in popularity. Foodservice is also growing with the entry of many international chains influencing in-home consumption of more traditionally western food choices.
"Demand for portable bottled water is expanding in major cities particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia due to the high number of visitors and pilgrims. While young consumers, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, have adopted mobile and internet-based services as the key channel to communicate with brands and delivery services.”
While for Asia Pacific, it notes: “This region’s already large and growing population, combined with an expanding middle class, is heightening potential. Packaged food sales are growing as modern retail expands supported by a developing cold chain infrastructure for fresh, chilled and processed foods.
"Internet retailing and strong national logistics mean consumers can easily and cheaply buy products not easily accessible in local retailers. Health concerns around obesity are shaping strong and growing interest in natural and traditional ingredients.”