Paul Shand, Head of the South West at the Department for International Trade (DIT), calls for ambitious food producers in the region to consider exporting to the United Arab Emirates.
Food producers across the UK are enjoying a boost in overseas trade as British-stamped food and drink rises in popularity across the globe.
The South West is no exception – last year the region exported an impressive £810 million worth of food and drink overseas, an increase of 8% compared to 2016.
Bestsellers included seafood (£173 million), dairy and eggs (£149 million), and meat (£94 million).
While large economic centres such as North America and East Asia are increasingly attractive to exporters, there are plenty of opportunities elsewhere.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), for instance, is the UK’s largest export market in the Middle East and the third largest market outside the EU, after the US and China.
Buyers in the UAE have developed a taste for South West produced food and drink in recent years. A good example is Taunton-based Granny Gothards, an ice cream producer that makes a range of products from locally-sourced ingredients.
The business began exporting to the UAE – along with Bahrain – in 2015, and has since seen its profits jump by 300%.
The demand is there and it’s quite telling that one of the world’s largest food trade shows is hosted in Dubai.
Gulfood attracts more than 97,000 visitors each year and South West companies including Bristol’s Beyond the Bean, Gloucestershire’s Dairy Partners and Plymouth’s Freshways all showcased their regionally-made produce at this year’s show.
Many others can find export success too. Trade relations between the UK and the UAE are ever increasing.
The UAE shares a close affinity with the UK and the two nations have strong cultural and historical ties.
The UK is a tourism destination of choice for many Emiratis, and many British tourists frequent UAE destinations like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
English is also widely spoken and accepted as a common language of business.
However, exporting to the UAE can present challenges. For one, competition from high-growth Asian economies, as well as the more traditional competitors in Europe and North America, is fierce. Navigating this requires not just tenacity, but research and good planning.
Being able to understand the main cultural differences is key when trading with the UAE. Although a diverse and multicultural society, the national culture revolves around the religion of Islam. This is important to understand, particularly for alcoholic drink manufacturers, as alcoholic beverages can only be sold to non-Muslim residents in licensed hotels and clubs.
It’s crucial that local businesses understand that there is plenty of support available to help them on their exporting journey, regardless of their size, scale and aspirations.
We have a team of International Trade Advisers based across the South West to help food and drink firms interested in exporting to the UAE navigate the whole process.
And the joint Food is GREAT campaign from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and DIT is currently showcasing the UK’s food and drink abroad and encouraging producers to sell their products internationally.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement