Globally, the consumption of frozen foods has risen steadily in the last decade. Worldwide frozen food market is expected to reach US$293.7 billion by 2019, at a CAGR of 3.9 percent driven by increasing numbers of modern retail formats, especially in new economies markets where the availability of a greater variety of ready-to-eat meals, pasta, seafood and exotic meats has attracted time-conscious consumers, leading to a noticeable increase in demand. Globally the demand for frozen food is rising and the GCC market is no exception. The region already imports 70 per cent of its food requirements and it is likely to double to US$53.1 billion by 2020 forecasts MEED.

The growing influence of western food habits among people has increased the demand for packaged food products in the GCC. This is further supported by high urbanisation, the presence of a high percentage of expatriates, tourism, as well as young consumers, which is driving the demand for ready-to-eat, canned, processed, preserved and frozen foods. The need for advanced technologies like IQF that preserves produce becomes more relevant in the case of the GCC given the region’s dry climate and lack of arable land in the region.

Market opportunities GCC presents for frozen food players:

HoReCa

Growth within the Middle East’s F&B market is driven by its diverse consumer groups which have an appetite for a wide range of cuisines. For example, the UAE is home to over 200 nationalities, while the number of tourists flocking to the country continues to grow every year. Dubai alone is expected to accommodate 25 million visitors by 2020. The region’s hospitality sector is in the midst of rapid expansion, and several new hotel and retail projects are in the pipeline, especially within the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Large shopping malls and hotels are still the preferred locations to open new restaurants due to the growing number of tourists. According to a report from Al Masah Capital, Dubai is expected to add 57,000 hotel rooms in hotels and serviced apartments by 2020. With new hotels and restaurants looking to cater to the changing needs and demand of tourists, this presents a large opportunity for frozen food players.

Frozen Bakery Goods

Middle Eastern countries like Kuwait, UAE, and Qatar are some of the busiest nations of the world where there is a marked consumer prefer to consume ready-to-eat products. The region does not have a well-established domestic market for frozen bakery goods, and currently importing them. This market is unexplored and presents an opportunity for multinational companies to enter the domestic market, with the concept of private labels, to exploit the market. New age retail formats of hypermarkets and supermarkets are gaining popularity among busy consumers in the GCC.

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