Blog: Hannah AbdullaThe Middle East - the next big thing

Hannah Abdulla | 23 February 2014

With emerging markets becoming a central focus for many food companies, there is growing interest in the Middle East and Africa - and this week we are at the Gulfood expo in Dubai to speak to those building their business in the region.

In the last six months, just-food has reported on a number of multinationals or companies with international ambitions investing in the Middle East.

Dole Food Co. has announced plans to set up an office in Dubai to market the full range of the US group's products from the Southern Hemisphere across the region

United Biscuits has struck a deal to buy a majority stake in Saudi snacks group Rana Confectionery Products.

Ireland dairy co-op The Irish Dairy Board has also looked at Saudi Arabia to help it expand further in the Middle East and north Africa with a move to build a cheese manufacturing plant in the country.

SMEs are also eyeing the region. UK gluten-free firm Genius Foods has secured listings in the region for its bakery products to be stocked in a range of supermarkets across the United Arab Emirates. In December, US popcorn firm Pop Gourmet won listings with Middle East retailer Landmark Group.

The Middle East was mentioned at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in the US last week by Kellogg as one of the key markets it would be focusing on over the next year. "Pringles and Kellogg together have doubled the size of our business there," Kellogg CEO John Bryant said. In cereal alone, Bryant said Kellogg had experienced "double-digit growth."

And Dubai appears to be a key business centre for companies in our sector. Dole is putting down roots in Dubai and is set to join many multinationals, including Mondelez, PepsiCo, Nestlé, McCain Foods and Mars Inc, which see the centrality and cosmopolitan nature of Dubai as the perfect hub to serve their regional businesses across the Middle East and Africa. 

We'll be at Gulfood this week, speaking to both the multinationals which have sound experience of the Middle East market and an increasing presence, and SMEs looking to break into the market to find out why it is such a lucrative prospect.

Stay tuned to just-food over the next few days to hear why the Middle East is the next big thing for the food industry.

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