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UAE 'hungry' for more innovation Filed on June 9, 2019 | Last updated on June 9, 2019 at 06.56 am
UAE hungry for more innovation
This robot server at a Dubai restaurant is just one of the numerous innovations in UAE F&B.


Residents' spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages will amount to Dh112.19B in 2019, rising to Dh117.6B in 2020.

The UAE's ever-growing food sector constantly demands innovation and enhanced consumer experience to ensure sales soar and businesses make decent profits. To develop a strong marketing strategy that caters to all segments of generations dwelling in the land - Generations X, Y and Z - indeed poses a challenge; to stay competitive, industry stalwarts say that being innovative will help you stay afloat.

Shivam Goyal, founder of Mitra, said: "Although Dubai has no dearth of finger-licking food, trends have changed dramatically from conventional food to fusion cuisine. Today, the major thrust is on presentation and transforming traditional food to modern or progressive cuisine. In 2019 and beyond, only those operators would win who offer unique experience along with authenticity to customers. Needless to say, in today's competitive world pricing needs to be accurate and the ambience must score big-time. Make every dining experience count and create enough reasons for them to come back with many more."

According to Euromonitor International's estimates, UAE residents' spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages will amount to Dh112.19 billion in 2019, rising to Dh117.6 billion in 2020.

Global Industry Outlook Report 2019, released during the recent Gulfood in Dubai, pointed out that the global population expected to exceed 8.4 billion by 2030 and, hence, the sector is set to see manifold growth. Driven by the rise in population, demand for packaged food and beverages is set to see further growth over the forecast period. Moreover, urbanised population growth is projected to grow at a CAGR of 1.7 per cent until 2023, outpacing total population growth of 1 per cent over the same period.

Additionally, with GDP growing at a faster rate than the total population with a CAGR of 2.8 per cent between 2018-30, overall consumer spending on F&B is set to rise in value from 8.5 per cent to 8.9 per cent of GDP by 2030, coinciding with consumer trends such as more convenience-seeking lifestyles.

Priyanka Mittal, director at India Gate, said: "The food sector in the UAE has seen healthy growth, supported by the growing consumer base and their discerning tastes and preferences. Moreover, the industry has witnessed a revolutionary movement when it comes to healthy food options - which is surely the way forward."

"Given the growing number of consumers who are making critical lifestyle decisions by adopting healthy eating, the healthy food category is now more than just a trend. With due credit to the efforts of the government and private sector in educating consumers about the risk factors related to unhealthy diet, today veganism, vegetarianism and plant-based food takes the forefront. As a result of this, 2019 will surely see an increase in the number of F&B outlets and brands offering healthier food options."

Recent research report from Alpen Capital indicates that the food industry has witnessed so much change in consumer preferences from dining out to takeaways and home delivery, among various options - and these point at emerging consumer behaviour.

The GCC is expected to expand at a CAGR of 4.2 per cent to 59.2 million metric tonnes in 2021. This growth is primarily attributable to increase in the consumer base coupled with a higher per capita income, as GCC economies stage a sustained economic recovery. The respective share of most of food categories in overall consumption are anticipated to remain broadly unchanged through 2021 with cereals as the most consumed food category in the region. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are likely to remain the major food consumption centres during the forecast period. The country-wise share in total GCC food consumption is anticipated to remain largely unchanged until 2021.

During the forecast period, food consumption in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow at an annualised average rate of 4.2 per cent to 37.7 million metric tonnes, while the UAE is projected to grow by 4.4 per cent to 10.1 million metric tonnes. The expected growth rates largely mirror the population and GDP projections for the countries. The Mena region is set to register total F&B growth at 3.5 per cent until 2021.

"It is indeed exciting to witness how the F&B sector in the UAE has been steadily evolving: Compared to a few years ago, when large international brands were conquering the food scene in the region, we have recently been noticing the advent of more local, home-grown concepts, all competing to further shape our multicultural region," Fabio Baglio, general manager at DLL, said. "We are seeing a shift in consumer behaviour, where our people now prefer food deliveries versus going out to dine-in concepts. This is because consumers are becoming more cautious when it comes to spending on food, and value-for-money offers continue to increase. This is a truly positive sign of a market that is now showing maturity."

"Expo 2020 has helped local as well as foreign investors to put more trust in our market. New brands are getting smarter on improving their 'unboxing experience' for their delivery segment, while more established brands have focused on improving food quality as well as providing a great delivery experience. 2019 will see the rise of more health-conscious products: New innovative salads/wraps brands are fast expanding, while lots of existing brands are shifting some of their offerings to more healthy products. We look at the market with a positive attitude, knowing that to remain competitive among so many new players we need to ensure we continue to provide amazing quality product jointly with a great customer experience," added Baglio.



Sandhya D'Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.

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