Demand for organic produce in the United Arab Emirates continues to grow and is expected to increase by 13% between now and 2024, mainly driven by fresh fruit and vegetables, already a must for over 50% of the local population. These figures were unveiled during the webinar organised by ITA.BIO, the platform for the internationalisation of Italian organic produce promoted by ICE in collaboration with FederBio and managed by Nomisma.
“In our experience, sustainability, origin and brand name are the key factors that shape the purchasing decisions of the inhabitants of the United Arab Emirates when buying organic products – explained Werner Castiglioni, director of Biosüdtirol, a VOG Consortium cooperative dedicated exclusively to the production of organic apples – It is an open and modern market, and this is why premium and branded products are among those with the greatest chance of success, also in the organic segment”.
According to the figures shared by Nomisma during the meeting, for the Italian organic sector – which generated sales of €4.9 billion in 2021 – exports are becoming increasingly important. Italy is the second biggest global exporter after the US with €2.9 billion of sales, well ahead of European countries like Spain and France. Among the emerging markets, the United Arab Emirates is an area that all companies which operate in this segment should be keeping a close eye on, especially those in the fruit and vegetable sector.
The VOG Consortium, already present in the Emirates with the Marlene® brand, recently also introduced its organic products. “The first organic tests we carried out a few years ago immediately produced interesting results – explains Walter Pardatscher, CEO of the VOG Consortium – We decided to invest in this growing market, confident in our quality and our brands, Bio Marlene® and Biosüdtirol® first and foremost, but also Giga® and RedPop®, all of which premium class”. “We use cardboard packaging, much appreciated by local consumers, and we manage to stand out on the market, guaranteeing value for our members – said Castiglioni at the ITA.BIO conference – Today we are present in the stores of the main supermarket chains that operate in Dubai, such as Carrefour and Waitrose”.
Finding reliable local partners, particularly in such far-off locations, is of the utmost importance in these markets. “Our apples are sent to the United Arab Emirates by ship and arrive at their destination after several weeks – concluded the director of Biosüdtirol – Establishing partnerships with importers and distributors that know our products and can provide us with immediate feedback is key to our success”.
Although they have obviously been slowed by the pandemic, given the well-documented repercussions in logistics, exports continue to grow consistently. Today VOG exports its organic apples, which represent 10% of the total produce of the Consortium, to over 40 countries across the world.