Dispatches from Dubai

Distributor’s view: ‘Everyone is eyeing this market’

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags United arab emirates

Distributor’s view: ‘Everyone is eyeing this market’
Understanding and adapting to Middle Eastern consumer needs is crucial for introducing new brands in the region, according to food distributor Federal Foods.

The company is currently establishing and developing its own line of branded products for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, but it has been present in the region as a distributor for 20 years. It distributes dozens of well-known international brands, including Sadia poultry, Marina seafood, Saputo dairy products and Whitworths dried fruit, baking and snack products.

Speaking to FoodNavigator at Gulfood in Dubai last week, the company’s head of marketing Hisham Dimashki said the multinational crowd and high proportion of decision-makers at the show has kept Federal Foods coming back since 1998. And he says the company is always on the lookout for multinational partnerships.

“Everyone is eyeing this market as their opportunity,”​ he said. “We look for international food manufacturers. …We look at consumer demand: What is the opportunity and what is the consumer demanding?”

Dimashki said that some sectors, like egg products for example, were dominated by local companies, while others had a strong multinational presence.

“It is about getting innovative products to the market,”​ he said.

Generally for processed food products in the region, he said Federal Foods would expect some ‘localising’ of products to match local consumer tastes and expectations – but Dubai, with its large international community, was often an exception.

“In Dubai, we have a large proportion of expats and so there is a market for European products and consumers are willing to pay a premium for those products,”​ he said. “…You have to respond to consumer needs.”

The company is already one of the largest food distributors in the region, and it is looking to expand the range of products it distributes.

“If both of us have an opportunity with the consumer, then all the cards will fall in place,” ​he said.

“…We have a very fast growing market and the strategy is focusing on new trends and new distribution and getting affordable products to consumers for the best prices.”

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