The Colombian embassy co-hosted a matchmaking event yesterday to introduce UAE supermarkets to one of the largest food producers in Latin America.
Grupo Nutresa, which has six divisions, is the fourth-biggest company in South America and owns a host of brands, including Colcafe, which produces soluble coffee for Starbucks.
Its products are sold in more than 60 countries, including Singapore, China, the United Kingdom and Japan, and the company is now hoping to add the UAE to the list.
The Embassy of Colombia, Proexport Colombia, which is tasked with promoting trade, investment and tourism, and Ciwot, a UAE-based company that promotes Latin brands, introduced buyers from a number of supermarkets including Emke Group, the owner of Lulu Hypermarkets, to Nutresa yesterday.
"As a government we back companies that we are proud of, which is the case with Nutresa," said Juanita Bell, the executive representative of Proexport Colombia and the embassy's commercial attaché.
"Today we have the chance to introduce these products for the first time," added Catalina Onate, the general manager of Ciwot, which represents Nutresa.
The company is part of Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño, a Colombian conglomerate that contributes 6 per cent of the country's GDP.
Nutresa focuses on six areas: cold meat, biscuits, chocolates, coffee, ice cream and pasta and owns Noel biscuits and other brands.
One of its biggest brands is Colcafe, the largest coffee company in Colombia with a market share in roasted coffee of 57 per cent and in soluble coffee of 41 per cent.
"Colombia is known as the best producer of coffee all over the world," said Ms Onate, who set up Ciwot to bring Latin American brands here after spotting an opportunity when working in the hospitality industry in Ras Al Khaimah. "Colombia is exporting green coffee all over the world. In some countries like Italy they buy green. They roast it over there and say it is made in Italy but it is originally coming from Colombia. So there might be Colombian coffee in the UAE, but it is not recognised," she added.
Colombian exports to the UAE currently stand at about US$10 million (Dh36.7m) a year, according to Roberto Velez, the Colombian ambassador in the UAE.
But he hopes the embassy, which was set up in Abu Dhabi a year and a half ago, will help to boost the total.
"The trade is almost insignificant but Colombia is a country whose trade today is $60 billion. That really shows the potential we have. We are sure that now that we have the embassy and commercial office, we will find the space for Colombian products here," said Mr Velez.
"There are many ways you can enjoy a country. You can go and visit it. You can read about it. In these products you can see the true soul of Colombia."