The UAE is a culturally diverse nation. With the example of Dubai, the population of non-Emirati grew 2.2m to 2.7m from 2015 to 2017, while the Emirati population shrunk nearly one percentage point from 9.1% to 8.2% in the same period.
The multicultural demography has saw a greater variety of food and beverage products entering the country to satisfy different palettes.
Truebell is one example which has sealed exclusive distribution deals with foreign brands to meet diverse demands.
By March, the company will be distributing Yorkshire tea and Daioni organic milk from the UK and Lemon Square from Philippines.
Other novel products include Yakult Light Probiotic Milk from Japan, Palmdream coconut from Brazil, Soignon cheese from France, and Namet meats from Turkey.
It is partnering retailers such as Spinney’s and Carrefour in these imported products.
“Ordinarily the first quarter of the year is the busiest within the retail and food services division before the summer sets in and 2019 is no different. These partnerships further underscore our expansion plans in the retail and food sector following the opening of our new state-of-the-art distribution centre,” Truebell Director Jitendra Gandhi said.
“This facility was custom-built and incorporates design with technology, which enables us to provide exceptionally efficient service, delivering the freshest, top quality products to our customers.
“Plans are already afoot to expand our wide-range of existing products under our retail and food services division, with further announcements expected over the coming months,” Gandhi added.
The firm opened the 25,000 sqm distribution centre, which is located in Dubai Industrial Park last September.
Comprising multi-temperature storage, the centre can accommodate up to 21,000 storage locations, providing greater space for dry, frozen, and chilled products.
Asia the greatest exporter
UAE’s food and beverage imports in 2017 was nearly four times more than its exports, however, it is important to note that roughly a-third of the imports was re-exported.
“Demand for imports continues to be propped up by significant demand from expatriates for food products from their home countries,” according to a report titled “Food and Beverages Sector in UAE – Dubai Exports” published in May last year.
Import of food and beverage products into the UAE was worth AED$44.6bn (US$12.1bn) from January to September 2017. The amount of re-export was AED$12.9bn (US$3.5bn).
The UAE imported most of its food and beverage products from the Asia, valued at AED$15.8bn (US$4.3bn). This is followed by the Americas at AED$10.2bn (US$2.8bn) and Europe at AED$9.4bn (US$2.6).
On the other hand, food and beverage exports from the UAE was AED$12.6bn (US$3.4bn).
UAE home-grown products are mostly exported to Asia, with trade value amounted at AED$7.1bn (US$1.9bn). This is followed by Africa at AED$4.6bn (US$1.2bn).
With a huge gap between the number of foreigners and local Emirates, the UAE government has plans to balance the demographic mix of Emiratis and expatriate by 2021, according to a report by The National.
As for the retail market, the Euromonitor International revealed the UAE is expected to lead the growth in the retail industry within the Middle East region and register an estimated growth rate of 16%.
Other lucrative retail markets include Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait.