Emerging markets represent a key target

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Local food companies can secure double digit export growth in the emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa and the Far East, according to Deloitte’s head of consumer business research Ben Briggs.

He was speaking at that organisation’s recent annual food and drink industry dinner.

“The Gulf States are 80% reliant on imported food,” he said.

“These countries are also seeking to diversify their source of supply and are demonstrating a commitment to support all sections of the agri food chain in those countries they are doing business with.”

Briggs pointed out that countries in South East Asia are currently securing annual growth of 9.1%.

“Societies in this region are also becoming more urbanised with consumer preference veering towards more westernised diets. The key entry point into these markets is the establishment of good working relationships with distributors.”

Briggs confirmed that Sub Saharan Africa should be another important target area for food companies in Northern Ireland.

“The economy in the region is transforming from one that is resource focussed to one that is based on indigenous consumption. We are seeing an inexorable growth of the middle classes in countries such as Nigeria and Angola. And this trend is set to be maintained throughout the region,” he said.

“The key challenge to be confronted in servicing this market is that of establishing an effective supply chain. Unilever is building air strips in many parts of Africa at the present time, simply to allow them deliver goods that have been ordered.”

Briggs also identified parts of Central and South East Europe as potential markets for local food businesses.

“Yes there is a degree of political instability in places like Ukraine. But the region, as a whole, has a young and growing population with a preference for western food products,” he said.