Robust Growth Predicted for UAE's Food Industry

The UAE’s food industry is projected to experience a consistent annual growth of 7%. Food trading, food trucks, cloud kitchens, catering companies and franchises are expected to drive the growth momentum forward. According to Dubai Economy and Tourism (DET), the Food and Beverage (F&B) brands market is thriving in Dubai. Currently the emirate hosts over 13,000 restaurants and cafes. And the number is set to increase as new concept brands continue to enter the market. Anticipated figures indicate that the UAE food industry will expand from AED 46 million ($12.5 million) in 2023 to AED 55 million ($15 million) by 2028. This means that UAE’s foodservice sector will grow at 4.8% during the period from 2023 to 2028.

The growth of the foodservice industry in the UAE is driven by elevated disposable incomes, surging tourist numbers, urbanization and evolving consumer tastes. Not to forget, the rise of Dubai as a medical tourism hub also contributed to the growth of the food industry in Dubai and the UAE. Collectively, these factors have opened up a growth avenue in the foodservice. The UAE nationals as well as expats now frequent these establishments to enjoy meals. Emerging market trends like food trucks and stalls, offering diverse global cuisines, are providing customers with novel experiences and consequently increasing their outlay on dining outside the home.


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Market Segmentation of UAEs Foodservice Sector

Some of the key profit sector channels within UAEs foodservice market in 2021 included Quick-Service Restaurant (QSR), accommodation and Full-Service Restaurant. They were followed by pubs, clubs & bars and cafes. 

The growth of QSR was attributed to the pandemic which influenced many residents to opt for deliveries and takeout services. Among the UAE residents, millennials were the frequent visitors. Looking ahead, the QSR is expected to witness a surge in demand for healthier food options which includes fresh local ingredients. The accommodation category encompasses bed & breakfast places, hotels & motels, hostels offering foodservice amenities secured second position. This channel experienced expansion in terms of transaction volume. Full-service Restaurants (FSRs) was third on the list. Regular visitors to FSRs were enticed by the broader selection of cuisines and elevated quality. In a new trend, many F&B players are introducing plant-based meat alternatives to appeal to health-conscious consumers in the UAE. 

Gulfood 2023 – Key Highlights

During the Gulfood 2023, functional beverages and healthy snacking foods garnered more interest from the visitors indicating that nutritional value in consumption was equally important. The event also indicated that the UAE and Gulf markets were ready to consume innovative products. These included F&B products include fruit tea, dried ice cream, honey jam and vitamin shots. Therefore, as the country’s inclination toward healthier eating patterns continues to grow, operators must expand their offerings to encompass more products crafted from fresh and top-quality ingredients.

Author: Waqas Siddiqui
I am passionate about supporting businesses in successfully expanding in the UAE and Gulf region. I can be reached at for research inquiries.