The UK has great opportunities to sell more food and drink to the Middle East, UK Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said today during a mission to promote British produce there.
Speaking in Dubai at one of Asia’s biggest food and hospitality trade shows, Mr Paice backed the 60 UK companies exhibiting cheese, chocolate, crisps, curry and other British classics.
He also met Ministers from the United Arab Emirates for talks aimed at developing trade between the UK and the UAE.
The visit was part of a UK Government-backed drive launched last month to boost exports of British food and drink to high growth markets to generate significant economic growth and jobs.
Mr Paice said:
“From cheese to chocolate our foods are already known the world over for their quality. Successful, vibrant places like the Middle East represent a fantastic opportunity for growth.
“I firmly believe food manufacturing can play a key role in Britain’s economic recovery. That’s why I’m backing British products abroad while ensuring business gets the right support at home.”
With world population growth and surging consumer demand for Western products in high growth economies, there are significant opportunities for British producers. UK food exports grew for the sixth year in a row in 2010, up by 12.2 per cent to £16.1bn. But Britain still exports more to Belgium than to Brazil, Russia, India, China and Mexico put together.
The focal point of Mr Paice’s visit to Dubai was to the Gulfood trade fair, which is regarded as the premier event for food and drink exporters seeking new sales in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Around 60 UK companies exhibited there - from the UK’s largest food producer to small and medium sized businesses.
Mr Paice took part in a food leaders summit and met with UAE Minister for Foreign Trade, Her Excellency HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi and Dr Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment & Water, to discuss developing the trade relationship between the UK and the region.