Picture for illustration purposes only.
PHOTO BY ARCHIVE
DUBAI – What is trending in UAE palates this year? Over the last few decades, the UAE has become a melting pot of ethnicities, resulting in the globally attuned food and beverage destination that we see today.
Let’s take a look at what UAE residents love to eat and the developing food trends here.
According to an industry report by Mordor Intelligence, the UAE has witnessed strong growth in its frozen food sector, with the market expected to increase at 9.3 percent yearly until 2024.
The most widely used frozen food products include ready meals, soups, fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood.
“Convenience and a growing millennial population are the key factors driving this growth in the region, with increasing disposable incomes and a rise in the number of women working also contributing factors,” said Bhushant Gandhi, Divisional Manager of food importer and distributor Truebell.
The demand for Asian cuisine has continued to grow in the UAE, which is why we’re seeing supermarkets like Westzone thrive with their vast Asian food section, and specialty supermarkets like WeMart changing the way people shop for Asian food.
“Asian cuisines – primarily Japanese, Chinese and Thai – have consistently been firm favourites among UAE nationals, residents and tourists alike. However, with a growing number of Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian and Korean expats arriving, we are keen to capitalise on this opportunity by expanding our Asian offerings – trialling new produce and flavours from these countries,” Gandhi said.
Dubai’s 3.1 million population currently consists of just over 2.9 million expats, with 85 percent of these expats Asian, primarily from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, according to the latest figures from Dubai Statistics Centre’s 2018 annual report. And in recent years, the emirate has witnessed a surge in the number of Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian and Korean expats.
There are hundreds of Asian products available in the UAE, with popular brands that include Magnolia, Purefoods, Mama Sita’s, Sin Mui Heng Dimsums, Daesang Chonga Kimchi, Kikkoman Soy, Laco Edamame, Nissin Noodles, Dona Maria and Lemon Square.
Amid the various nutritional programmes on the market today, plant-based and vegan diets, as well as meat replacements, are becoming particularly prominent, which is clearly a key food trend for 2020 and beyond.
Gandhi said: “Plant-based meat replacement products including seitan, tempeh and tofu are gaining traction across the region.”
In addition to this, society is becoming more health conscious than ever before, and as a result, increasing number of consumers are interested in local and organic produce as well as collagen-rich and gluten-free food and drinks.
Over recent years, the UAE government has launched initiatives to make organic produce more readily available, and placed a strong focus on agriculture, with the country now more than 80 percent self-sufficient for milk and almost 40 percent self-sufficient in its demand for eggs, according to research firm BMI.
As well as probiotic supplements and drinks, we are seeing an increasing demand for on-the-go collagen drinks, due to the multiple health benefits associated with this protein such as healthier skin, hair and nails.
Meanwhile, other trends are growing in popularity, such as the combination of vegan and gluten-free, as well as eco-friendly, sustainable food products. ICA/Expat Media
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