US food exports to GCC hit $3bn

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

US food exports to GCC hit $3bn

Related tags: Saudi arabia, United arab emirates, Food, Us

US food producers saw record exports to the GCC of US$3bn last year according to new figures, as American trade associations organised events in Kuwait and around SIAL ME.

According to a market report from the Food Export USA Northeast and Midwest, the country’s food and agricultural exporters had a bumper year: “US exports of US agricultural products to the [GCC] rose 8% to over US$3 billion in 2014. Also with another new record high, US exports of consumer food products rose 7% in 2014 and totalled over US$1.8 billion, which is 61% of the agricultural total.​”

KSA claims top spot

The report also revealed Saudi Arabia has overtaken the UAE as the largest single market for American food products in the GCC. The kingdom now accounts for 44.5% of sales to the region, up from 41% in 2013, with the UAE on 40.5%, down from 43.5% the year before.

Growth in Saudi Arabia also soared past the regional average, according to the report: “In 2014 US exports of agricultural products increased 17% to an all-time high of over US$1.3 billion… US exports of consumer-ready products to Saudi Arabia reached another record of US$579.8 million in 2014, an increase of 9% from the prior year. The country now ranks as the 19th largest export market of consumer-ready foods from the US​.”

The main processed food exports from the US to the GCC were vegetable oils excluding soybean oil, and bases for ingredients and beverages, along with cheese, condiments, baked snack foods, chocolate, butter and French fries. US trade representatives in the region also suggested product categories with good potential for US exporters, including shelled almonds, Halal meat, condiments and sauces, and breakfast cereal.

US mission to revamped SIAL ME

In line with the food export associations’ advice to US producers to make personal visits to the GCC, this month they are organising a “Focused Trade Mission”​ to SIAL Middle East in Abu Dhabi and to Kuwait.

Along with exhibiting as part of the USA Pavilion at SIAL ME, food exporters will also participate in retail tours in both Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, starting next week. In Kuwait, the trade associations have also organised individual meetings with buyers.

The organisers of SIAL ME are billing the show as “revamped​” this year, with a new focus on food security and innovation. The event will feature the SIAL World Summit, with 40 speakers and 700 invited delegates.

The UN expects the world’s population to hit nine billion people by 2050, which, combined with the increased calorific intake of a growing, more affluent population, is predicted to dramatically hike food demand in the decades to come​,” said Ali Yousef Al Saad, chairman of the organizing committee for SIAL 2015.

As well as the ongoing problem of food security and scarcity, this year’s new-look SIAL Middle East will also focus on innovation and global food trends in meeting increased demand and catering to a diverse world where cultural influences, economic forces and nutritional education and awareness will continue to impact food production and availability​,” he added.

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