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Commodity Innovation Series – Snapshot of opportunities in the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) oilseed sector

Canada was the UAE’s largest supplier of oilseeds in 2016, worth C$333.9 million. 99.4% of these exports were canola seed (HS 120510), which were then processed into oil and meal, and then exported mainly to India (oil) and southeast and East Asia (meal).

Market trends

In 2017, Saudi Arabia was the country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that saw the highest value of retail sales for edible oils, worth US$731.6 million, followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), worth US$220.2 million. Oman experienced the most growth in retail sales of edible oils from 2013 to 2017, with a compound annual growth rate of 10.7%, followed by Qatar (9.6%), and Bahrain (9.2%).

Oilseed trade

Oilseeds in bulk

GCC oilseed imports by importing country, 2016
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Country  2016 (M)
Saudi Arabia 45.32%
United Arab Emirates 44.89%
Oman 4.59%
Kuwait 2.88%
Qatar 1.29%
Bahrain 1.04%
Top five oilseed exports from Canada to the UAE, 2016
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Low erucic acid canola seeds (HS 120510) 99.45%
Low erucic acid canola oil (HS 151419) 0.38%
Soybeans, excludes seed for sowing (HS 120190) 0.10%
Sunflower seeds (HS 120600) 0.04%
Flax seed (HS 120400) 0.03%

Oilseeds used as an ingredient

Top companies launching the most oilseed-containing products in the Middle East and Africa region 2013-2017
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Company Number of variants Top brand
Woolworths 623 Woolworths Food
Pick n Pay 240 PnP
Shoprite Checkers 173 The Menu
Tiger Consumer Brands 107 Jungle
Unilever 13 Maille

321 of Woolworths’ oilseed products launched between 2013 and 2017 belonged to the Woolworths Food brand.

There is a growing emphasis on functional pet food claims.

Top five growing claims

  1. Ethical
  2. Low/no/reduced carbs
  3. No additives/preservatives
  4. Weight and muscle gain (pet food)
  5. Eyesight (pet food)

Top five declining claims

  1. Stanols/sterols
  2. Low/no/reduced lactose
  3. Ethical - charity
  4. All natural product
  5. Probiotic

New packaging made up 19.8% of product launches containing oilseeds.

Top package types

  1. Flexible
  2. Jar
  3. Tub
  4. Bottle
  5. Tray

Top package materials

  1. Plastic unspecified
  2. Polypropylene plastic
  3. Glass plain
  4. Polyethylene terephthalate plastic
  5. Metallised film

Top innovative markets for oilseeds in the world

The UAE was the most innovative market for oilseeds in terms of new product launches.

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Innovation Criteria South Africa Israel Egypt Nigeria UAE Saudi Arabia Morocco Iran
Relaunch Fair Low Low Low Low Fair Low Low
New product Very good Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Very good Excellent Excellent
Product line diversity Excellent Very good Good Fair Fair Fair Fair Low
Health & wellness claims Excellent Excellent Excellent Very good Very good Fair Fair Fair
Rating scale: Excellent (20-17), Very good (16-13), Good (12-9), Fair (8-5), Low (4-0)

Factors of consideration

Recommendations for entry

How we can help

View our Agri-Food Trade Services for information and support to help you achieve your international business goals.

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

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