Pak food brands eye Gulf

Pakistan’s food industry is set to establish a strong foothold in the UAE to ease the region’s concerns on food security as major brands plan to launch their products in Dubai this year.

By Muzaffar Rizvi

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Published: Mon 20 Aug 2012, 10:36 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:34 PM

The country’s leading brands in frozen meat, edible oil and confectionery are poised to make inroads in the potential Gulf market by establishing base in Dubai to double food exports in next couple of years.

K&N’s Foods became the first Pakistani brand to launch its halal meat products in Dubai at a function held on the eve of Pakistan’s 66th Independence Day last week. At least five more frozen meat brands will join the foray by year-end or early 2013, which include PK Livestock, Zenith Associates, Al Rahman Meat Processors, Seasons Foods and Punjab Agriculture & Meat Company.

Edible oil brands such as Sufi Cooking Oil and Habib Oil, leading herbal trademark Qarshi and confectionery products leader Hilal, among others are also finalising their plans to enter the UAE food market later this year.

The UAE spends more than $7 billion annually on food imports from across the globe. Its food import bill is expected to hit $8.4 billion by 2020. Pakistan’s exports of food products to the GCC region stand at $1 billion and the UAE shares around 50 per cent of the total bill. The volume of Pakistan’s exports to the UAE touched $1.8 billion in 2011.

According to industry sources, PK Livestock and Zenith Associates secured the necessary approvals from UAE authorities sometime back and now plan to launch their products in the local market later this year.

“Al Rahman Meat Processors, Seasons Foods and Punjab Agriculture & Meat Company got the nod last month and they will take more time to enter the Gulf market,” the sources said.

An official at the Pakistan Embassy said a high-level UAE team recently visited Pakistan to examine various slaughterhouses in Karachi and Lahore. Following the visit, the UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Water approved three new entrants along with five existing companies to export frozen meat to the country.

“The ministry also cancelled the approval of Pakistan Foods and Kato-Co Company for not complying with the required health and veterinary conditions. Another firm, Snow King Frozen Foods, didn’t get the approval as well,” he said.

Atiq R. Siddiqui, K&N’s head of exports, remains upbeat about the brand’s entry into the Gulf market through Dubai and said the emirate provides an ideal environment to businesses. “The emirate is a commercial and business hub in the region and it would be great to launch Pakistan’s premium brand in this key market,” Siddiqui told Khaleej Times.

Bilal Pasha, commercial counsellor at the Pakistan Embassy, said the country’s other leading names in the frozen meat export business are set to make a UAE foray later this year.

“PK Livestock and Zenith have already secured necessary approvals from the UAE authorities and they are expected to market their products by year-end or early next year,” Pasha said.

“Pakistan can become a food basket for the UAE and other GCC states keeping in view its strong agriculture base and close proximity to the region,” he said.

According to industry sources, Pakistani brands will expand their reach to other Gulf States including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain through Dubai to boost their share in region’s food markets. Most of the brands exhibited their products at the Gulfood exhibition in February and currently are in discussions with local groups and distributors to market their foodstuffs in the region.

The GCC is the biggest importer of food in the world by sourcing more than 90 per cent of its total needs. The food service market in the region is worth an estimated $32 billion. According to a new research, the GCC states will spend $53.1 billion by 2020 on food imports to feed growing population. The food consumption in the GCC will rise at the rate of 4.6 per cent annually during 2011-15 and reach 51.5 million tonnes per year during this period.

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