Middle East market provides opportunities for food, non-food consumer products

Filipino exporters of food and non-food consumer products are encouraged to penetrate the Middle East market as consumers are expected to spend more in the next few months, optimistic about a return to normal following the pandemic.

“For our export strategy, our main export is of course Halal, food primarily, but also non-food, and second is franchising. (And) of course, the promotion of Philippine brands in the Middle East specifically in the UAE (United Arab Emirates)”, said Charmaine Mignon Yalong, Commercial Attache for the Middle East and Africa.

Yalong identified the UAE and Saudi Arabia as the two largest markets in the Middle East, where over half of the consumers are spending more before the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and even after the pandemic.

“One of the things that we also want to emphasize when talking about the Middle East consumers (is that) they now are more focused on taking care of themselves now more than ever. Especially on their mental health and well-being”, she said.

“Even before COVID happened, the slant now for consumers here in the Middle East, not just for food, not just for cosmetics, but also for lifestyle products is towards sustainability”, she added.

Yalong said the region’s hosting of the Expo 2020 Dubai UAE and the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup Qatar 2022 also provides optimism on the economy despite the pandemic.

Originally scheduled from Oct. 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021, Dubai’s Expo 2020 will now run from Oct. 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 over the Coronavirus pandemic.

Yalong particularly cited the World Cup Qatar emphasizing sustainability.

“What does that mean? So even for the hotels, they go for organic items as much as possible, furniture made of traditional materials instead of the usual factory-made item. So, there is a whole trend towards that sustainability. Second is everyone is looking for healthier options especially for food”, she said.

Yalong noted the proliferation of coconut sugar and muscovado sugar for example in big supermarkets.

She also advised the exporters to take advantage of online platforms and social media to promote products and when talking to importers or distributors in the Middle East.

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