The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) will be leading a delegation of 15 Danish food companies to the annual Gulf Food Exhibition in Dubai from 23-27 February.  The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – have a young population with ample liquidity and rising demand for quality food products.

Danish food exports to the wider Middle East & North Africa (MENA) include poultry and eggs, dairy and ingredients used in the production of a wide range of food items. Food exports to the region suffered a setback in 2005 in the aftermath of controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammad printed by a local newspaper. Many Danish food items were boycotted in several MENA countries. Exports went down by 70-80 per cent and started recovering only after the newspaper apologised for the offence to Muslim organisations.

For several months, food exports to MENA went down to zero. But the food companies are happy to put the crisis behind them and food exports have been picked up over the last two years to DK 4 billion ($716.84 million), of which 40 per cent are dairy products.

There is also scope for more Danish joint ventures in the MENA region, particularly the GCC countries. And some of the leading companies, such as the Danish dairy giant Arla Foods has manufacturing facilities in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Lebanon. Denmark’s Chr. Hansen is one of the world’s largest food ingredients manufacturers and its strong presence in MENA could strengthen further as the market is set to expand in the coming years.

Danish companies participating in Gulf Food Exhibition 2014 include Scandic Food, Kelsen, Skare, Glud, Carletti, Jacobsens Bakery, Tomex, BPI, Seadager, Royal Unibrew, Nordex, Robert D, Orana, Butt Lewis (Mammen), Fynbo Foods, Jahn General Products, My Smoothie and Aarhus Karlshamnn.

DI provides its 11,000 members access to 750,000 companies in MENA through its networks at local business organisations and chambers of commerce in the region. Its work focuses on industrial advocacy, removing trade policy barriers, proposing facilitative amendments to regulations, B2B facilitation as well as minimising entry-level challenges that are often faced by small and large companies when entering new markets.