Gulfood 2021 – Reviving UAE’s Food & Beverage Industry

Gulfood 2021 – Reviving UAE’s Food & Beverage Industry

The Gulfood 2021 kicked off in Dubai on February 21st, after a year of restrictions on the global Food & Beverage (F&B) industry. The return of UAE’s leading trade event has allowed F&B industry professionals to reconnect following the lack of in-person business opportunities in 2020. With a diverse exhibitors and several major F&B players, the exhibition provided thought-provoking conversations between influential chefs, food scientists, government officials and industry leaders. Some of the topics of discussions included the growing Kosher sector in the UAE, TikTok, food waste, retail disruption, tourism and much more.

Food & Beverage Industry Market Overview – Dubai & UAE

With Dubai being one of the first city to control and open up during the COVID19 pandemic and its efforts in cementing its position as a strategic re-export hub in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, the F&B sector is expected to witness a further growth in the years to come. In addition, the overall expenditure on F&B products in the UAE is estimated to increase by 7% on an annual basis from AED 136 billion (USD 37 billion) in 2020 to AED 150 billion (USD 41 billion) by the end of 2025.

Major Trends – Food & Beverage Operations in UAE

Change in Business Model – Food Delivery Service Providers 

As the UAE and the region recovers from the pandemic, it has significantly changed the dynamics of UAE’s F&B sector, particularly of Dubai. One of the major trends witnessed since the pandemic is the increase in food delivery services such as Talabat, Zomato and Careem in UAE. They gained immense popularity during the pandemic where deliveries grew as a result of health and safety precautions. The food delivery service providers are also innovating their business model, to better serve the F&B operators. Careem, changed its commission-based model to monthly subscriptions, which has seen an increasing reception for the same.

Cloud Kitchens Concept on Rise in UAE

The F&B operators are also increasingly moving to shared cloud kitchens as compared to the traditional on-site ones, and are now looking towards managed kitchens. Facilities in which both cooking, and delivery are fully outsourced will allow businesses to focus more on brand, concept, and consumer demands while eliminating the need to spend significant sums on allocation decisions.

Kosher Food in UAE

One of the major topics of discussion during the event was the introduction of Kosher certified food products and how it could emerge as the fastest growing food category in the UAE, reaping the full dividend from the opening up of the UAE-Israel ties. The Israeli visitors at Gulfood stressed the importance for food businesses in the UAE to go Kosher if they want to serve and build good relationships with an entirely new audience of consumers from Israel

Read – Report on Investors Survey about UAE Business & Economy

Food & Beverage Business Investment Opportunities in Dubai & UAE

Despite a global economic slowdown because of the pandemic, the UAE continues to be one of the fastest-growing F&B sectors in the world. Events like Gulfood not only play a critical role in reviving local F&B industry but also solidifying Dubai and the UAE’s position as a major F&B destination across the globe. In addition, the recent UAE-Israeli ties, several investors, tourists and key influencers from Israel are expected to visit the Emirates in the next few years. Although the Kosher food is currently being imported, Kosher certified factories will soon be established in UAE. 


Research Konnection is a leading market research company in Dubai specializing in F&B industry market research, feasibility studies and business setups. Please feel free to reach out to us if you are planning to start or expand your food business in UAE.



Author: Waqas Siddiqui
The author is the Managing Director of Research Konnection, a Dubai based market research and consulting firm that helps local and international companies to identify emerging business opportunities and successfully expand in the Gulf region. The author can be reached at waqas@researchkonnection.com

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