The demand for New Zealand meat, dairy and fish is on the rise in the Emirates, increasing by around 15 per cent annually in the last three years.
UAE consumers acquiring bigger taste for Kiwi products
The demand for New Zealand dairy, meat and fish is on the rise in the Emirates.
Food exports to the UAE have risen by around 15 per cent annually for the past three years, and they are expected to increase at a similar rate in 2013, according to Steve Jones, the New Zealand consul general and trade commissioner for the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan.
Exports to the UAE stood at around NZ$600 million (Dh1.86 billion) last year, he said.
The main category is dairy, followed by red meat.
"In the case of Dubai, the wider UAE and in fact the GCC, some New Zealand products go into ingredients that go into the retail sector but a lot of New Zealand products go into food service through the tourism and hospitality sector," said Mr Jones.
A significant proportion of imports are in dairy, but the fastest growing categories are in areas like chilled meat.
One Kiwi company called Five Star Beef only entered the market about three years ago but now sells about 50 per cent of high quality chilled beef imported into the UAE, said Mr Jones.
Despite the success, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is keen to do more to support the growth of Kiwi imports to the UAE.
The Emirates spent around US$10bn (Dh36.73bn) on food imports last year, according to the agriculture industry consultancy Clarity.
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise devised a competition, challenging the country's chefs to come up with menus using a list of ingredients from New Zealand.
Around 60 chefs took part in the initial round, who were whittled down to 10 finalists from hotels including Atlantis The Palm, the Jumeirah Creekside and the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Yas Island. The winner will be chosen next week.
"The growth that we are observing outside of the commodity space is in food service and obviously in the UAE food service is about tourism, food operators in the hotels and also in the events catering sector, such as Formula One or the Dubai Rugby Sevens," said Mr Jones.
"The menus are specified by senior executive chefs and we want to expose those senior executive chefs to New Zealand products so they are incorporated into the menu for those large events or into those high end hotels," he said.