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Expo-nential appetite: UAE restos see Dh2B onsite sales at 2020 showpiece

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on March 3, 2019 | Last updated on March 3, 2019 at 04.10 pm
Expo-nential appetite: UAE restos see Dh2B onsite sales at 2020 showpiece
Dubai has the second-highest number of restaurants per million at 2,935, behing only Paris' 3,656


25% of F&B outlets plan to offer sit-down dining experience

Restaurant operators in the UAE expect Dh2 billion in food and beverages onsite sales during Expo 2020 Dubai, according to KPMG's latest report on the country's F&B market.

The report disclosed that up to 85,000 meals would be served per hour during peak times. The exhibition site will feature over 200 F&B outlets and 30,000sqm of front-of-house space.

Approximately 25 per cent of F&B outlets at Expo 2020 plan to offer a sit-down dining experience while the remainder will provide faster services such as snacks, impulse offerings and others.

"Three out of four operators believe Expo 2020 Dubai will have a favourable impact and the event has the potential to provide a much-needed fillip to the industry," said Vikrant Rohatgi, director for advisory at KPMG Lower Gulf.

Around 60 per cent of operators expect a directly favourable impact to their businesses from Expo 2020, while those who believed there would be little direct positive impact on Dubai's F&B sector mentioned that most of the activity will be in and around the event site. Some operators stated that Expo 2020 may draw tourists away from existing F&B destinations in the UAE.

More than one-third of restaurant operators plan to directly participate by establishing a presence at the site. An additional 20 per cent are considering options for event-related campaigns to take advantage of the increased number of tourists in the city, while the remaining 45 per cent of operators have not made event-specific plans as yet.

The survey results revealed that there seems to be a general consensus in the market that 2019 will continue to be challenging for the sector. Though operators may look to expand to London, Paris, New York, Riyadh and Sydney in the coming years, but many are taking a conservative approach towards regional expansion and seem to prioritising stabilisation within in the UAE.

The study noted Dubai has one of the highest restaurant footprints among the world's top cities. The emirate has the second-highest number of restaurants per million at 2,935 after Paris' 3,656. New York has 2,911, London has 2,772 and Singapore has 1,320.

Most popular cuisines

KMPG's UAE 2018 Food & Beverage Report found that Arabic and Indian cuisines are the most popular among UAE residents, followed by Italian flavours.

Restaurant operators put Arabic and Indian cuisines' popularity at 57 per cent followed by 52 per cent for Italian, 48 per cent for Japanese and 43 per cent for American.

Also, UAE consumers generally appear to love burgers, pizzas and fried chicken, as well as sugar- and chocolate-based offerings. But increasing awareness about health has led some to reduce or give up meat, gluten and milk products and there is a noticeable increase in vegetarian options, said Anurag Bajpai, partner and head of retail at KPMG Lower Gulf.

Asian cuisines - primarily Japanese, Chinese and Thai - have been amongst the top choices in the UAE for several years. While these continue to be popular, operators see potential in expanding upon this and experimenting with other Asian flavours. Vietnamese and Korean food are expected to see greater acceptance in the future, Bajpai said.

He noted that there has been a rise in the popularity of Emirati flavours, as expats and tourists look to experiment with local cuisine.


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