UAE, Qatar to top food consumption growth

Qatar led the GCC food consumption growth at CAGR of 5.5 per cent, followed by the UAE at 4.8 per cent.



By Staff Report

Published: Wed 29 Apr 2015, 2:04 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:45 PM

Dubai — The UAE and Qatar are expected to witness the fastest growth in food consumption on behalf of their rising populations by 2019, according to a study by Alpen Capital Middle East.

Encouraging macroeconomic drivers are likely to push the food consumption in the Gulf countries at 3.5 per cent CAGR between 2014 and 2019 to touch nearly 52 million metric tonnes.

Saudi Arabia is the largest food consuming nation in the GCC and the country is estimated to show an annual average growth of three per cent from 2014. Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain also show similar growth patterns ranging from 2.7 per cent to 3.2 per cent. Qatar led the GCC food consumption growth at CAGR of 5.5 per cent, followed by the UAE at 4.8 per cent.

Cereals are likely to remain the most consumed food category, accounting for more than 46 per cent of the region’s total food consumption in 2019. However, rising consumption of high-priced protein-rich and healthy foods is expected to gradually eat into the share of cereals in total food consumption.

“The food demand in the GCC is driven by several factors, including a growing population base, increasing affluence and rising tourist inflow within the region. High health awareness and a developing taste for a Westernised diet, introduced by the increasing expatriate population, are bringing about a change in the region’s dietary habits, creating demand for organic and international foods. In contrast, the GCC’s food production is restricted due to its arid climate, less arable land and water scarcity, making it heavily reliant on imports. However, the region’s abundant oil revenues have supported its food imports as well as enabled the governments to make multi-billion dollar investments towards improving the country’s food security,” Sameena Ahmad, managing director, Alpen Capital (ME) Limited, said in a statement.

Mahboob Murshed, managing director, Alpen Capital (ME) Limited, said: “The GCC countries are overwhelmingly reliant on food imports to meet their growing requirements. The inherent growth potential of the industry largely due to population growth, changing consumption patterns, continued modernisation of the value chain and the vibrant tourism industry is encouraging international as well as local players to enter and expand their foothold in the sector. We see growing interest from these companies to invest in the food sector which expectedly will play a major role to significantly reduce the food imports by the region in the foreseeable future.”

Rising population is one of the key drivers of food consumption in the GCC as it naturally increases the demand for food. Urban lifestyles have raised the standard of living of individuals and changed their eating pattern, resulting in a shift in the diet towards protein-enriched foods as well as packaged and fast foods.

The region’s per capita income is likely to increase at an annual average rate of 2.5 per cent between 2014 and 2019. International tourist arrivals in the GCC are expected to show an annual average growth of 7.8 per cent between 2014 and 2024.

— abdulbasit@khaleejtimes.com


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