UAE residents prefer locally sourced produce, survey says

A new report published by the Abu Dhabi Farmer's Services Centre found that Abu Dhabi is growing four times faster than the production of local goods for consumption.

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ABU DHABI // Residents are more inclined to buy local produce as farmers continue to expand their output of fresh fruits and vegetables for local consumption, according to a new report published by the Abu Dhabi Farmer’s Services Centre.

The centre’s market position survey found that Abu Dhabi is growing four times faster than the production of local goods for consumption. Local produce makes up 16 per cent of fruit and vegetable sales in the UAE.

The market is worth Dh2.4 billion for more than 1 million tonnes of produce grown locally and sold domestically.

“We undertook this survey to get a clearer understanding of the current health of the local market as well as the size of the overall fruit, vegetable and livestock industry here in the UAE,” said Nasser Al Junaibi, acting chief executive of the centre.

While cucumbers, capsicum, herbs, leafy vegetables and tomatoes enjoyed a high local share of farmers’ output, the survey showed onions, potatoes, cabbage and pumpkin are opportunities for future growth.

“The survey will also help us understand current market trends and recognise areas where ADFSC can work with our members to cultivate future growth in the local industry,” Mr Al Junaibi said.

The survey has been four years in the making and centre officials hope to update the information regularly throughout the year to provide farmers with better information to drive growth.

“You can’t improve if you don’t measure,” said Peter Ensor, planning and studies manager at the centre. “We have to know that after four years of work we got to this point. Any work beyond now we can see how much we will have improved and be able to target particular areas.”

As for livestock, approximately 50 per cent of the meat sold in the UAE is locally sourced, which accounts for almost 40 per cent of the market. Because foreign-bred meat is more expensive, it accounts for a higher per cent of the market value.

The study also found that 98 per cent of all camel meat sold in the UAE was locally sourced.

The survey used statistics sourced from the Ministry of Environment and Water and the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, and officials from several wholesale partners, such as Spinneys, LuLu and Carrefour, were interviewed.

“This is the first time we have had a full survey like this,” Mr Ensor said. “In the past other estimates have been given based off secondary data. Now we can combine secondary data with primary resources.”

Information for the survey was also collected from import and export statistics, domestic production statistics and production data from other sources such as abattoirs and dairies.

nalwasmi@thenational.ae