‘It’s crucial Yorkshire producers understand there is plenty of support out there’
Battle Oats, a manufacturer of health food products from Hull, recently told our team about a simple, but significant request it had received from its distributors in the UAE. The firm was asked to feature the Union Jack on its packaging. Why? Because its distributors wanted the business to thoroughly capitalise on the strong demand for British food and drink from consumers across the country.
Battle Oats is just one of the UK firms succeeding in the UAE and its case highlights the ripe opportunity for other businesses to expand here. In fact, more local producers are beginning to target consumers in the likes of Bahrain, Qatar and UAE than ever before.
Recent export figures show that Yorkshire and the Humber exported an impressive £11.1m worth of food and drink to the UAE in the year to September 2018, a 25 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.
This is in part due to many of the region’s firms now supplying UAE retailers. One such example is The Ice Co, a South Kirkby manufacturer of convenience bags of ice, which has recently secured a significant contract to supply Abu-Dhabi headquartered hypermarket chain LuLu with its West Yorkshire-sourced ice.
Sheffield start-up Pura Panela is another great success story. It also secured a deal with LuLu to supply its dried sugar cane juice, which is a natural, nutritional sweetener. It secured the contract after attending Gulfood 2018, which it attended as part of a Northern Powerhouse trade mission organised by the government’s Food is GREAT campaign.
The UAE is ranked highly on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report – jumping ten places in 2018 to 11th place.
However, this is not to say that there are no potential challenges to exporting to the region.
In entering any market, it is important that firms do thorough research and planning to understand key competitors, the country’s market conditions as well as legal and regulatory requirements.
For example, while English is considered a language of business, food import regulations in the UAE require the product information to be in Arabic, either as part of the packaging or as an affixed label.
It’s crucial that Yorkshire producers understand that there is plenty of support out there to help them on their exporting journey, regardless of their size, scale and aspirations.
Trade shows can be a great way for firms to sample the market. The Department for International Trade and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are taking firms from across the region to Gulfood 2019 in February, the world’s largest food and drink trade event. Recruitment for the trade mission is still underway, so get in touch with the Yorkshire DIT office for an initial discussion about your export plans and how you can take part in these opportunities.
If overseas demand for produce from Yorkshire and Humber continues to grow at the same pace, you never know – it may be the White Rose of York appearing on packaging soon.