The food industry is preparing to enter the United Arab Emirates while riding the EXPO wave

09.12.2019

Enterprise Estonia (EAS) is launching a third export growth programme after Germany and China, focusing on the United Arab Emirates. The first service opened for the food and beverage sector is “Süsteemne eksport AÜE-s” (Systematic export to the UAE), which helps companies prepare themselves for entering the market with the help of local experts.

Tanel Rebane, Head of the Trade Development Agency at Enterprise Estonia, says there are many reasons to look towards the United Arab Emirates market. “In less than a year, world exhibition EXPO is going to begin in Dubai and it is important that the first steps are taken before then.”

The purpose of the United Arab Emirates' growth programme is to help Estonian entrepreneurs reach and expand into the Middle East markets. Enterprise Estonia will support activities directed towards the UAE for five years, increasing Estonia's visibility, entrepreneurs' knowledge and contacts.

 “We are starting with the food sector at the moment, as the Persian Gulf region is a major importer of food. The value of the UAE market is estimated at over 25 billion euros per year and it is expected to grow further. The food industry is forecast to already exceed 35 billion euros by 2022. It is also important that it is a gateway to other markets in the region,” Rebane explained.

According to him, first experience has already been gained. “For two years, we have been attending Gulfood, the world's largest food and beverage fair taking place in Dubai, with Estonian companies, and the reception and interest in our food has been great,” said Rebane, noting that this is certainly not a simple market, but the potential is huge when approaching it smartly and strategically over a long period of time. “The population is on the rise, especially due to immigrants, as Dubai has become an attractive business centre.”

“Our systematic export programme gives the participant a clear understanding of what it takes to get to the UAE market, how long it will take and what it will cost. Individual consultations with a UAE consultant allows you to focus on the specifics and product of your company,” said Rebane.

IT and many other sectors are also looking towards the United Arab Emirates market. Enterprise Estonia is also ready to support the endeavours of other sectors on this market, to organise visits, marketing events and meetings with potential partners.

From the beginning of the year, Estonian entrepreneurs in Dubai also have their own export adviser, Jukka Hahlanterä, who encourages all interested companies to contact him. According to Hahlanterä, the food market of the Emirates is plentiful and has led to the spread of lifestyle diseases in the UAE. “For example, the number of people with diabetes has increased every year. This is gradually bringing about a change in consumer food choices, and health products and superfoods are becoming increasingly popular, which could be a suitable niche for Estonian producers.”

Hahlanterä warns that there is a great pressure regarding the price of simple and common products. “You should rather invest in your uniqueness, enter the market with your own story and strong preparation,” Hahlanterä advises. “While the market is competitive, it is open to new entrants because both resellers and consumers are constantly looking for new experiences.”

“Systematic export to the UAE” is a programme for the food and beverage sector in order to enter the UAE market. The programme consists of five one-day seminars, one-on-one counselling and a market research visit to Dubai. The visit will provide an insight into the future export market to better understand the cultural context, the competitive landscape and test your value proposition on potential clients. 

More information about the programme can be found here (in EST).

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