Middle East review: The Top 10 most-read Middle East food and beverage stories in 2021

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Middle East review: The Top 10 most-read Middle East food and beverage stories in 2021

Related tags Middle east

Read our top 10 most viewed Middle East food and beverage stories in 2021, featuring the biggest brands in frozen foods, dairy, and beverages.

1. WATCH: ‘High quality, no alcohol’: UAE’s first non-alcoholic online drink marketplace Drink Dry forayed into supermarkets

The UAE’s first premium non-alcoholic drinks online marketplace, Drink Dry, had entered the retail space with its first partner, supermarket chain Choithrams, with the firm exploiting a gap in the market for sophisticated booze-free offerings.

The company started off as an e-commerce store in December 2020, selling non-alcoholic beer, sparkling wine, still wine, and booze-free spirits, mainly imported from Europe.

The partnership saw Drink Dry retail its full range of non-alcoholic drinks across five Choithrams stores in Dubai.

2. Manny Pacquiao’s coffee brand to pack a punch in Middle East as distributor expanded Filipino range

Importer and distributor SandBox signed exclusive distribution agreements with Filipino brands including Pacquiao coffee and Oh So Healthy snacks to launch products in the UAE and GCC region.

Oh So Healthy (OSH) is a healthy snack company based in the Philippines producing fruit crisps. Pacquiao 3-in-1 Coffee is a brand co-owned and developed by Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao which launched in the Philippines only in April in 2021.

Pacquiao himself worked on the product development process and the manufacturer to produce his coffee. The coffee is fortified with moringa extract (malunggay), which is rich in antioxidants.

3. Covid-19 and food transmission: Meat, dairy, nuts, fruit and veg potential carriers, but may not spread virus - Review

More studies have emerged of food products as a potential carrier for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing COVID-19, according to a review, but there was no evidence of it leading to transmissions.

So far, global health authorities have reported no evidence of food or food packaging capable of transmitting COVID-19, despite, China finding the virus​ on mostly imported frozen foods from some 20 countries.

Researchers from Iran’s Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Science, said while SARS-CoV-2 may be present in food and even food packaging, it did not necessary meant it was viable and capable of causing infection.

4. UAE’s Al Ain Farms CEO exclusive 1: Product innovation priorities and sustainability focus revealed

Production innovation was UAE-based Al Ain Farms’ main focus, with the firm exploring new products, recipes, and formats, revealed CEO Willem van Walt Meijer, who had signalled a step change in approach to new business development.

Founded in 1981, Al Ain Farms was UAE’s first dairy company and has since expanded into the juice and poultry sectors. The firm services more than 12,000 outlets in UAE with cow milk, camel milk, yoghurt, juice, chicken, eggs and other products.

In this exclusive two-part series, Meijer told FoodNavigator-Asia​: “Al Ain is seen over the years as a company which has not delivered a lot of new business​.”

5. CEO interview: UAE’s United Foods expanded beverage portfolio, outlined innovation and sustainability efforts

United Foods Company, an UAE-based manufacturer and distributor of edible oils, fats and frozen foods had outlined plans to expand its beverage portfolio in 2021 in an exclusive interview with FoodNavigator-Asia.

The company is a distributor of frozen foods in UAE, importing French fries from Belgium, frozen vegetables from Egypt and Spain, as well as cheese from India.

In addition, it is the exclusive distributor for international brands such as Oreo, Cadbury and Mondelez ice cream in UAE.

6. ‘No compromise on taste’: Al Islami Foods CEO revealed plans to expand plant-based range and GCC distribution

UAE-based frozen food producer Al Islami Foods had unveiled plans to expand its frozen plant-based product range following the launch of its first vegan burger.

It was the company’s first foray into the plant-based market, responding to growing appetite for vegan options in the region.

Al Islami is known for its frozen chicken, sausages, burgers, seafood, vegetable and fruit products branded under Al Islami, as well as the Aladdin brand of frozen chicken nuggets targeted at children.

7. UAE’s Al Ain Farms CEO exclusive 2: Camel milk export plans to China revealed and COVID-19 impact assessed

UAE-based Al Ain Farms was tapping the health benefits of camel milk to increase exports into China, which was deemed a key growth market.

In January 2021, the firm launched camel milk powder in tin format (400g) into China.

According to Al Ain Farms’ CEO, Willem van Walt Meijer, China’s consumption of camel milk was higher than most parts of the world, contributed by more awareness.

8. Baladna CEO Exclusive Part I: Portfolio innovation and forward planning key to surviving and thriving said dairy giant

Qatar dairy giant Baladna’s CEO Malcolm Jordan revealed the firm’s secrets to surviving and thriving amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to the early implementation of operational improvements and being quick to innovate in its product portfolio.

Baladna is well-known for helping Qatar achieve dairy self-sufficiency as a country as the nation faced a diplomatic crisis and blockade when its neighbouring countries blocked its access to the outside world over claims of it supporting terrorism activities​. It now not only provides dairy for Qatar, but is one of the biggest dairy firms in the Middle East and exports to several countries too.

Now the firm can add the successful navigation and even prospering through the COVID-19 pandemic to its list of achievements, having seen tremendous growth in both profit and revenue in its FY2020 annual results (Revenue: 68% year-on-year growth from QAR486mn/US$133.5mn to QAR815mn/US$223.8mn; Profit: 152% year-on-year growth from QAR60mn/US$16.5mn to QAR152mn/US$41.7mn) even through the darkest times of the pandemic.

9. Power on: Nestle highlighted NPD and sustainability focus for the Middle East following confectionery launch

Nestle Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was striving to create more innovative products for the region, following the launch of Quality Street dates, while also pledging to double down on its sustainability efforts.

Mackintosh Quality Street Date was Nestle’s latest confectionery offering in the MENA region.

The product is a date, stuffed with nuts and coated with milk chocolate.

10. CEO interview: UAE’s Global Food Industries and International Beverage and Filling Industries set five-year-plan to double food and beverage portfolio

UAE firms, Global Food Industries (GFI) and International Beverage and Filling Industries (IBFI) which are part of the Albatha Group have set a five-year-plan as it look to double the food and beverage business locally and regionally.

GFI is the manufacturer of frozen food brands Al Areesh and Arctic Gold, and snacking brands such as Glen’da and Amara. IBFI is a producer of Star carbonated beverages and juices.

CEO of GFI, Ahmed Bayoumi told FoodNavigator-Asia​, the five-year-plan consisted of three pillars.

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