Market Overview - United Arab Emirates

April 2017


Contents


  • United States dollar (US$)

Market snapshot

  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) had a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$339.1 billion in 2015, which is expected to grow by 2.3% in 2016. The UAE is a diversified economy with a high standard of living.
  • The United Arab Emirates has a population of 8.6 million people, of which 88% are foreign citizens. There are twice as many men as women. The population is expected to reach 9.2 million by 2020.
  • Annual per capita consumer expenditure was US$18,532 in 2015, with food and non-alcoholic beverages representing US$2,551 or 13.8% of that total.
  • The consumer foodservice industry continues to expand, fueled by tourism, restaurant dining, and an influx of foreign nationals with money to spend and who are open to foreign food varieties.
  • The convenience and variety of packaged food appeal to the local consumers. Packaged food sales continue to grow, reaching a value of US$4.7 billion in 2016.
  • The top packaged food company in the market is currently Nestlé SA with a 5.2% value share, followed by Almarai Co Ltd (5.1%) and Mars Inc (4.9%).
  • The agriculture sector employs 7% of the work force and is estimated at 0.8% of GDP.

Production

  • Dates remain the primary domestic crop in the United Arab Emirates, although production declined sharply in 2011. Production volume decreased by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25% from 2007 to 2011.
  • Other fresh vegetables currently represent the third-largest domestic crop in the United Arab Emirates in production terms. This crop saw the largest production volume growth in 2014 over 2013 with 162.3%, followed by sorghum at 42.9%.
Crop production and livestock in United Arab Emirates - Top ten crops (tonnes)
Top ten crops 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Dates 825,300 239,164 221,529 237,864 255,182
Sorghum 125,029 89,503 19,997 53,871 76,990
Other fresh vegetables 28,400 26,043 36,925 20,509 53,793
Tomatoes 47,411 58,668 35,470 33,130 36,041
Cucumbers and gherkins 4,242 4,497 15,105 33,874 28,666
Green onions, shallots 22,947 23,409 23,871 24,333 24,795
Other fresh fruit 10,615 13,381 12,781 13,072 13,740
Other melons, cantaloupe 1,374 2,050 6,792 10,495 11,892
Carrots and turnips 8,463 8,756 9,381 9,770 10,159
Pumpkins, squash 27,419 23,117 21,355 5,770 7,003
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization – Statistics Division (FAOSTAT) Agricultural Production, December 2016
Crop production and livestock in United Arab Emirates - Meat indigenous (tonnes)
Meat indigenous 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Chicken 37,753 39,635 40,458 41,058 42,258
Camel 23,562 32,792 27,296 27,296 27,296
Goat 12,135 19,280 16,155 16,955 17,435
Cattle 3,840 7,309 13,518 13,893 14,143
Sheep 7,857 5,176 5,418 5,508 5,688
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization – Statistics Division (FAOSTAT) Agricultural Production, December 2016
2014 not available
Crop production and livestock in United Arab Emirates - Livestock (head)
Livestock 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Chickens 20,000,000 21,000,000 21,000,000 21,500,000 22,500,000
Sheep 1,350,665 1,386,828 1,841,829 2,082,926 2,150,000
Goats 1,883,630 1,889,554 1,579,164 1,850,464 1,920,000
Camels 358,027 363,807 364,378 392,667 400,000
Cattle 100,860 88,617 78,717 85,359 87,000
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization – Statistics Division (FAOSTAT) Agricultural Production, December 2016

Trade

  • The United Arab Emirates is a net importer of agri-food and seafood products. In 2015, the United Arab Emirates' agri-food and seafood trade deficit was US$10.5 billion, with imports valued at US$15.6 billion, and US$5.1 billion in exports. Within the last five years, from 2011 to 2015, Emirati agri-food and seafood imports grew by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4%, while exports grew at a CAGR of 17.0%.
  • The United Arab Emirates' top agri-food and seafood imports in 2015 were cigarettes, milled rice, food preparations, almonds, as well as milk and cream. Key supplying countries were India, the United States, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. Canada was the United Arab Emirates' eleventh-largest supplier of total agri-food and seafood products in 2015, with a 3.2% market share.
United Arab Emirates top agri-food and seafood imports from the World, 2015
Commodity Import value US$ millions Top suppliers and market share #1 Top suppliers and market share #2 Top suppliers and market share #3 Canada's share
Cigarettes 836.6 South Korea 36.5% Bulgaria 16.3% Germany 16.1% 0.0%
Milled rice 589.7 India 94.9% Thailand 2.9% United States 1.3% 0.0%
Food preparations 423.1 United States 24.6% Bahrain 6.7% France 6.1% 1.1%
Almonds 404.2 United States 77.6% Australia 13.4% Hong Kong 5.6% 0.0%
Milk and cream 387.8 New Zealand 82.9% Netherlands 5.2% Germany 3.1% 0.0%
Cane or beet sugar 338.3 Brazil 75.7% India 17.9% Singapore 2.8% 0.0%
Swedes and mangolds 328.3 Spain 38.2% United States 29.2% Italy 22.8% 0.3%
Frozen chicken cuts 321.1 Brazil 77.9% United States 14.5% Thailand 3.2% 0.0%
Whole frozen chickens 316.6 Brazil 81.5% Argentina 6.8% France 5.6% 0.0%
Canola seed 297.0 Canada 64.1% Australia 24.7% Ukraine 7.7% 64.1%
Source: Global Trade Tracker, January 2017
  • The United Arab Emirates' processed food imports were valued at US$9.2 billion in 2015. Canada's share was 0.3%. The United Arab Emirates' processed food imports increased by a CAGR of 0.8% from 2011 to 2015.
  • Canada's agri-food and seafood exports to the United Arab Emirates were valued at US$497.3 million in 2015. Top exports were canola, lentils, non-durum wheat, durum wheat, and sorghum. In 2015, Canada registered an agri-food and seafood trade surplus of US$484.4 million with the United Arab Emirates.

Retail sales

  • Packaged food sales increased by a CAGR of 8.3% over the period 2012 to 2016 with further increases of 5.4% forecasted to 2021. Within this category, the best performing segment was savoury snacks, registering a compound annual growth rate of 13.0% from 2012 to 2016. Despite the growing interest in healthy eating, potato chips remain the most important category within savoury snacks.
  • The major retail distribution channels for packaged food are supermarkets and hypermarkets, which offer a large and expanding variety of product choices.
  • Even though the economy has slowed down due to declining oil prices, growth in packaged food will continue because of the large number of foreign workers and the convenience factor. Consumers, however, may tend to be more price-conscious.
Historical agri-food retail sales in United Arab Emirates, in fixed US$ millions (2012 to 2016)
Categories 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016E CAGR 2012-16 Market share
Packaged food 3,399.8 3,685.9 3,977.5 4,322.6 4,679.6 8.3% N/A
Baby food 100.9 107.5 116.5 127.9 139.2 8.4% 3.0%
Baked goods 362.5 387.5 414.0 447.3 474.6 7.0% 10.1%
Breakfast cereals 70.4 74.6 78.6 83.9 89.8 6.3% 1.9%
Confectionery 299.4 347.5 383.5 429.3 481.9 12.6% 10.3%
Dairy 1,060.0 1,132.2 1,204.3 1,281.9 1,362.9 6.5% 29.1%
Edible oils 138.5 147.8 157.0 168.1 177.2 6.4% 3.8%
Ice cream and frozen desserts 88.2 95.0 102.4 108.1 113.4 6.5% 2.4%
Processed fruit and vegetables 84.9 92.0 97.0 103.0 108.3 6.3% 2.3%
Processed meat and seafood 205.8 222.1 239.6 259.9 281.3 8.1% 6.0%
Ready meals 19.1 20.3 21.7 23.5 25.3 7.3% 0.5%
Rice, pasta and noodles 374.4 405.4 438.0 481.5 527.7 9.0% 11.3%
Sauces, dressings, condiments 118.0 126.7 135.3 145.5 157.6 7.5% 3.4%
Savoury snacks 269.4 298.4 335.4 384.4 438.8 13.0% 9.4%
Soup 17.1 18.6 20.1 21.9 23.6 8.3% 0.5%
Spreads 59.9 66.9 77.2 84.7 91.8 11.3% 2.0%
Sweet biscuits, snack bars and fruit snacks 131.4 143.6 156.9 171.6 186.2 9.1% 4.0%
Source: Euromonitor, 2017
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Not applicable (N/A)
Estmate (E)
Forecast agri-food retail sales in United Arab Emirates, in fixed US$ millions (2017 to 2021)
Categories 2017F 2018F 2019F 2020F 2021F CAGR 2017-21 Market share
Packaged food 4,961.2 5,256.6 5,564.7 5,819.4 6,117.6 5.4% N/A
Baby food 148.5 157.8 167.3 175.8 184.4 5.6% 3.0%
Baked goods 495.1 516.6 538.6 560.7 586.1 4.3% 9.6%
Breakfast cereals 94.1 98.4 102.7 107.1 112.5 4.6% 1.8%
Confectionery 530.0 580.3 634.2 685.6 731.6 8.4% 12.0%
Dairy 1,414.9 1,473.1 1,532.2 1,580.7 1,632.1 3.6% 26.7%
Edible oils 180.8 184.7 188.8 193.2 205.2 3.2% 3.4%
Ice cream and frozen desserts 116.6 118.4 121.2 123.7 126.2 2.0% 2.1%
Processed fruit and vegetables 111.8 115.5 119.4 123.1 127.9 3.4% 2.1%
Processed meat and seafood 298.4 316.1 333.8 348.5 367.5 5.3% 6.0%
Ready meals 26.5 27.7 29.0 29.7 31.1 4.1% 0.5%
Rice, pasta and noodles 565.0 604.6 644.3 654.9 692.8 5.2% 11.3%
Sauces, dressings, condiments 166.9 177.2 188.2 197.2 208.7 5.7% 3.4%
Savoury snacks 493.8 550.0 609.0 665.4 720.0 9.9% 11.8%
Soup 24.6 25.7 26.8 27.8 28.3 3.6% 0.5%
Spreads 97.1 102.7 108.4 114.5 121.3 5.7% 2.0%
Sweet biscuits, snack bars and fruit snacks 197.2 207.9 220.6 231.4 241.9 5.2% 4.0%
Source: Euromonitor, 2017
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Not applicable (N/A)
Forecast (F)

Health and wellness (HW)

  • Sales of health and wellness products in the United Arab Emirates are growing as consumers try to embrace a healthier lifestyle. The population includes a very high rate of overweight and obese people, including children. The government, media and industry have started to promote health and food awareness to combat childhood obesity.
  • Savoury snacks in the health and wellness category showed the highest growth in the 2012 to 2016 period with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.8%. This category includes nuts, seeds, and trail mixes in line with the growing interest in healthy eating.
  • Ice cream and frozen desserts, edible oils, and sweet biscuits, snack bars and fruit snacks also showed considerable growth over the same period with CAGRs of 10.7%, 10.5%, and 10.0% respectively. The forecast for 2017 to 2021 indicates continued growth for savoury snacks at 13.0%, and a CAGR in the 6.2% to 6.6% range for the other three categories.
  • Consumers are looking for value-added products. Manufacturers are fortifying products and increasing gluten-free varieties along with other health and wellness products.
Historical HW products retail sales in United Arab Emirates, in fixed US$ millions (2012 to 2016)
Categories 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016E CAGR 2012-16 Market share
HW packaged food (total) 559.4 604.7 657.9 736.3 809.0 9.7% N/A
HW baby food 71.6 76.3 83.1 92.1 100.4 8.8% 12.4%
HW baked Goods 16.6 17.8 19.8 23.2 26.1 12% 3.2%
HW breakfast cereals 70.4 74.6 78.6 83.9 89.8 6.3% 11.1%
HW confectionery 35.3 38.8 42.3 46.6 50.7 9.5% 6.3%
HW dairy 194.4 209.1 225.4 250.8 271.2 8.7% 33.5%
HW edible oils 29.7 32.1 35.1 41.3 44.2 10.5% 5.5%
HW ice cream and frozen desserts 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.3 10.7% 0.0%
HW rice, pasta and noodles 0.8 0.8 0.9 0.9 1.0 6.4% 0.1%
HW sauces, dressings, condiments 22.6 24.3 26.1 28.2 30.1 7.4% 3.7%
HW savoury snacks 58.7 66.4 77.0 93.9 113.2 17.8% 14.0%
HW shelf stable meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables 5.5 5.8 6.2 6.5 6.9 6.1% 0.9%
HW soup 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 7.7% 0.0%
HW spreads 22.5 24.3 26.1 27.9 29.8 7.3% 3.7%
HW sweet biscuits, snack bars and fruit snacks 11.9 13.0 14.3 15.9 17.5 10.0% 2.2%
Source: Euromonitor, 2017
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Not applicable (N/A)
Estimate (E)
Health and wellness (HW)
Forecast HW products retail sales in United Arab Emirates, in fixed US$ millions (2017 to 2021)
Categories 2017F 2018F 2019F 2020F 2021F CAGR 2017-21 Market share
HW packaged food (total) 866.1 925.5 987.9 1,043.7 1,103.0 6.2% N/A
HW baby food 106.9 113.2 119.2 124.0 128.6 4.7% 15.9%
HW baked goods 27.7 29.1 31.3 33.3 36.0 6.8% 4.4%
HW breakfast cereals 94.1 98.4 102.7 107.1 112.5 4.6% 13.9%
HW confectionery 54.5 58.3 62.1 66.1 69.9 6.4% 8.6%
HW dairy 283.5 296.4 308.8 316.2 326.1 3.6% 40.3%
HW edible oils 45.9 48.2 51.7 55.8 59.3 6.6% 7.3%
HW ice cream and frozen desserts 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 6.2% 0.0%
HW rice, pasta and noodles 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.2 1.3 4.8% 0.2%
HW sauces, dressings, condiments 31.5 33.0 34.7 36.6 38.6 5.2% 4.8%
HW savoury snacks 132.9 153.8 175.7 196.3 216.4 13.0% 26.7%
HW shelf stable meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables 7.2 7.6 7.9 7.9 8.7 4.7% 1.1%
HW soup 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 5.1% 0.0%
HW spreads 31.1 32.6 34.2 35.9 37.9 5.0% 4.7%
HW sweet biscuits, snack bars and fruit snacks 18.8 20.1 21.4 22.8 24.1 6.4% 3.0%
Source: Euromonitor, 2017
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Not applicable (N/A)
Forecast (F)
Health and wellness (HW)

Consumer foodservice

  • The foodservice industry in the United Arab Emirates continues to grow, fuelled by tourism, new infrastructures in preparation for Expo 2020 (October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021), and one of the highest standards of living in the world.
  • Restaurants are very popular in the United Arab Emirates as many people do not have the time or inclination to prepare their own meals at home. The population includes many single expatriates who rely on the convenience of the consumer foodservice industry as well as packaged, processed, and ready-made food.
  • Foodservice and retail are becoming more intertwined with packaged food distributors serving both markets. Many food service companies offer packaged food products such as healthy ready meals.

For more information

International Trade Commissioners can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions and local business contacts, and are an excellent point of contact for export advice.

For additional intelligence on this and other markets, the complete library of Global Analysis reports can be found under Statistics and Market Information at the following link, arranged by sector and region of interest: Agri-Food Trade Services for Exporters.

For additional information on Gulfood 2017, please contact:

Ben Berry, Deputy Director
Trade Show Strategy and Delivery
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
ben.berry@canada.ca

Resources

  • Euromonitor International, 2016. Packaged Food in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Euromonitor International, 2016. United Arab Emirates: Country Profile.
  • The World Bank, 2016. Agriculture, value added (% of GDP).
  • Food and Agriculture Organization – Statistics Division (FAOSTAT), 2016. Agricultural production – United Arab Emirates.
  • Global Trade Tracker, 2016. Import and export statistics – United Arab Emirates.

Market Overview - United Arab Emirates
Global Analysis Report
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