Miryem Oukas Messidi, head of communications of Business France UAE, speaks to Catering News about the importance of the Middle East as an export market for French produce.
What products is France showcasing at Gulfood?
Well first, we have been a long time partner of the Gulfood exhibition since 1997 when France participated for the first time. This year we are showcasing around 70 companies in four different categories so we have dairy pavilion where you could find everything related to desserts, yogurts, milk, flavoured milks then we have a specialty food pavilion which is this one and where you can find biscuits, jam, and honey. We also have beverages one where you can find some syrups, juices, some natural waters as well and then we have the meat and poultry pavilion where you can find some fresh and frozen products.
How have food exports from France to the Middle East increased over the years?
The Middle East is a very important market for us. France is the sixth largest food and beverage market internationally with $57 billion in 2015. Actually, the UAE imported $455 million of food and beverage products from France. Projects have grown in the UAE during the last two years; actually they have more than doubled in six years with a 207% increase. KSA is still the largest market for French F&B companies, with a $1bn dollar market in 2015. The Middle East represents 3% of food exports. Of the $8 billion French dairy exports internationally, $400 million is sold to the Middle East, which is 5%.