UAE's Food & Beverage Industry Outlook 2020

UAE’s Food & Beverage Industry Outlook 2020

UAE is the second biggest market in GCC’s food and beverage sector with the country’s population at over 10 million people in 2018 witnessing a continued influx of more than 17 million visitors in the nation. With expats consisting of 85 per cent of the people, multi-cultural societies, working couples, fast lifestyle and demand for healthier food have enhanced the need for packaged foods which stood at over Dh 22 billion (US$ 6 billion) in 2019.

The UAE government is putting best efforts to boost tourism and increase the present rate of tourist arrivals in the country. Moreover, the year 2020 is likely to be a milestone year as the Expo is estimated to attract more than 25 million visitors from 190 nations which would provide impetus to the F&B sector’s demand further. Over the past five years, the UAE food and beverage market has grown over 25 per cent from Dh 40 billion (US$ 10.99) billion in 2014 to an estimated Dh 51 billion (US$ 13.79) billion by the end of 2019 with 2020 witnessing an accelerated growth.

Major Trends / Upcoming Concepts

UAE, a major hub for food in GCC is primarily import-dependent with necessary push to the sector fuelled by the rise in multi-cultural consumer base, increased sales of packaged foods, growing health consciousness amongst people and food value chain digitalization. The growing rate of obesity and other lifestyle-related challenges play a key role in enhancing the demand for healthy organic food.

  • People specially youth are becoming more tech-savvy and spending more time online. Thus, online purchases of fresh groceries, packaged groceries and meal delivery have seen increased demand over time.
  • Growing adaptation of mobile commerce by F&B retailers leading to an exponential rise in mobile apps for e-commerce has opened up increasingly important sales channels for F&B companies in UAE.
  • The rising trend to embrace popular diets like Paleo and Keto are shifting consumer sentiment towards foods rich in fats and carbohydrates.

Market Demand & Potential / Growth Drivers

UAE’s F&B market in the medium-term would experience strong growth – fuelled by Expo 2020 and other global events lined up like FIFA World Cup 2022 in the region as the nation continues to draw global attention as a tourist destination. Interest in the F&B sector can also be observed with the swelling number of companies that exhibit at Gulfood each year, the platform witnessing more businessmen inclined on learning about Dubai’s business environment and its competitive advantages. Dubai is showcased as the top destination for the F&B industry to attract local companies as well as both foreign direct investments (FDI).

UAE’s F&B sector is expected to witness thrust over the next three years, supported by the country’s fast-growing population, increased mobile internet penetration, rising number of tourists, and expanding halal food market and positively supported by improving oil prices, high per capita GDP. Research by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce states that the projected fresh food sales in the UAE would record CAGR of over 8 per cent between 2019-2021 period. Tea, pineapples, bananas, strawberries and tomatoes were identified as high-potential categories with these products expected to see strong high single-digit CAGR in the ensuing future.

Top 5 Reasons to Invest in UAE’s F&B Industry

  • Food Import Opportunities: Geographically, UAE depends severely on imports of vegetables, fruits and other food commodities for its expat and the local population. This provides a lot of opportunity for traders and considering the incentives provided by the Emirates government, the businessmen can earn a healthy profit just by importing food commodities to UAE.
  • Global tourism hub: There is a constant influx of tourists with expats globally visiting Dubai for pleasure as well as a business while some even settle down. Dubai has been the epicentre of global conferences, conventions and meeting and also the government keeps hosting festivals to attract more travelers, thereby pushing the need for worldwide cuisines. Dubai boasts of world-famous restaurants like Emirate kitchens to street food restaurants like Zaroob, Bu Qtair etc.
  • State of the art infrastructure: Dubai boasts of global standards in architecture, modern amenities, and infrastructure. For visitors, shopping and food go hand in hand with some of the famous malls like Dubai mall, City walk mall, Mercato mall loved by natives as well as visitors.
  • Free zones for business setup: There are numerous free zones in Dubai and various parts of the UAE. These fees zones provide favourable economic policies on customs and taxes as well as offer location advantage to foreign investors for setting up their businesses.
  • Easy licensing procedures: Emirates government is always on the lookout for international people interested in investing in the UAE. A testimony to this fact is the easy licensing procedure along with business registration. In certain specific company types, they require the presence of a local sponsor.

Research Konnection is a market research company in Dubai that assists local and international companies to setup or expand businesses in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and UAE. At Research Konnection, we specialize in Market ResearchFeasibility Studies and Business Plan Developments. Feel free to reach out to us on

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