The UAE's Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology held the second of its Future of Industry Dialogue online meetings, focusing on how to deliver a resilient food and beverage sector in the UAE.
It was held jointly with the Food and Water Security Office, the ministry said on Wednesday.
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, hosted the discussion, which also included Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of State for Food and Water Security.
Food and beverage companies from the private sector took part in the meeting, including executives from Nestle and Agthia Group, the maker of Al Ain water.
Attending the meeting were Khadim Al Darei, vice chairman of Al Dahra Agriculture, Faraj Ali bin Hamoodah, chairman of National Food Products Company, Saleh Lootah, chairman of Foods & Beverages Manufacturing Business Group (FBMG), Densil Quadros, chief executive of Freshly Frozen Foods, Remy Ejel, chairman and chief executive of Nestle Mena region, Alan Smith, chief executive of Agthia, Rizwan Ahmed, executive director of IFFCO, Ahmed Belyouha, chairman of Emirates Macaroni Factory, and Ahmed Bayoumi, chief executive of Global Food Industries.
During the meeting, the food and beverage companies presented case studies of their successes and plans for the future including key areas of development following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Al Jaber and Ms Al Mheiri discussed how the sector can help support the UAE’s food security goals, job creation and the development of Emiratis in the industry.
Dr Al Jaber said that the ‘Future of Industry Dialogue’ series, which was launched this month, is aimed at supporting the growth of the industrial sector and the supply of UAE-made products to domestic, regional and international markets.
"The UAE’s food and beverage industry is a vibrant sector that can be enhanced to play a pivotal role in the post-Covid recovery phase,” he said.
“We aim to boost the contribution of the F&B sector to the country’s GDP in the next decade. This will be achieved by enhancing the quality and competitiveness of local products, which in turn will help increase per capita spending on locally sourced food products.”
Ms Al Mheiri addressed the country's food security ambitions which have been galvanised by the impact of the pandemic on global food supply chains and highlighted the importance of local production. Domestic manufacturers have played a key role during the crisis, ensuring uninterrupted production and distribution of food in the country.
“The UAE has a well-developed food industry driven by its attractive investment environment,” she said. “The UAE is home to 568 food factories with an annual production capacity of 5.96 million tonnes. These factories have the ability to triple their production capacity, enabling the UAE to face various conditions by raising its productivity to meet a large part of the market’s needs.”
However, the current system of food production faces challenges including the need to be more competitive and reduce their use of resources, Ms Al Mheiri said.
“Nevertheless, the UAE is taking action to improve and develop ... which, in turn, helps boost the country’s competitiveness and ensures its future food security. Advanced technology offers many solutions and tools that allow us to reduce our dependence on imports from abroad by increasing local food production.”
Dr Al Jaber said that the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology would announce initiatives to strengthen trust in the UAE's food and beverage sector including a "robust standardisation framework".