Food consumption in Qatar is expected to grow five percent annually between 2012 and 2017 driven mainly by rising population and amid a changing regional consumption pattern that shows a shift to a protein-rich diet such as meat and dairy products, says a report.
But cereals would maintain their dominant position among food categories in the GCC region as a whole, with increasing consumption of protein-rich and high-value products such as meat and fruits due to rising affluence.
Alpen Capital’s latest report on the GCC Food Industry estimates that food consumption in the region will expand at 3.1 percent annually over 2012-17, reaching 49.1 million tonnes by 2017-end due to growing population, increase in foreign tourists as well as rising income levels.
Per capita food consumption in the region is forecast to reach 971.2 kg by 2015 and 983kg 2017.
Saudi Arabia would continue to lead the region’s food sector accounting for 60 percent of the total consumption. However, due to rising population, and increase in tourist arrivals, consumption growth in Qatar is expected to outpace that of other GCC countries.
During 2012-17, meat consumption is expected to increase by 3.9 percent annually, followed by fruits, vegetables, milk, and cereals at 3.7 percent, 3.4 percent, 3.1 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. The consumption of pulses, sugar, oil, fish, eggs and potatoes, is expected to grow at four percent during the period.
Per capita food consumption in the region is low compared to that in developed economies and is expected to increase at a relatively higher rate with growing affluence.
Another factor contributing to the growth in food consumption is the expected expansion of the GCC population from 41.7 million in 2010 to 49.9 million by 2017.
Urbanisation (and the resultant improvement in marketing and distribution infrastructure) has a profound effect on food consumption. It helps attract large supermarkets (retail formats) and improve access to foreign supplies (imports), thus widening the available range of choices.
Increasing urbanisation, hectic lifestyles, growing popularity of large food retail formats and presence of multinational food companies in the GCC region are expected to increase the popularity of high-value processed foods among consumers, driving consumption.
Increasing number of hypermarkets, supermarkets, discount stores, and various other forms of organised retail have also contributed significantly to the growing demand for food (particularly processed food) in the region.
There is a substantial opportunity for local and international brands with GCC governments supporting the growth of food processing segment especially bakery and dairy products. The GCC, especially the UAE, with the advantage of its location is also emerging as a major food re-exporting hub. Although UAE’s food production capability is limited, its strategic location has helped it to be a significant link in the region’s food chain.
While there is a growing awareness and drive about healthy living, obesity rates are high and diabetes is a concern for the region.
As a consequence, demand for healthy food which is high on energy and nutrition is expected to grow. Demand for healthy alternatives such as meal replacement products and low-fat dairy is expected to increase.
There is also a rise in demand for organic foods which has been driven largely through the increasing use of agrochemicals and other harmful pesticides, together with growing consumer awareness.
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