Kestrel Foods in Major Export Deals in Gulf

Kestrel Foods, the Craigavon based specialist in healthy snack foods, has won business worth around £250,000 in Dubai from its participation on an Invest Northern Ireland stand at the Gulfood Hotel and Equipment Exhibition in Dubai.

The company is supplying a range of products to top retailers such as Spinneys, Carrefour and Choitrim, through distribution deals signed following Gulfood 2008. Kestrel’s success in the Gulf was announced today by the company ahead of this year’s exhibition, which runs from 21-24 February.

Six local companies will be showing a broad range of products on an Invest Northern Ireland stand at the show, among the biggest food events of its kind in the world. Kestrel will be showing its snack range of dried fruit, nuts and seeds on a stand organised by its Dubai-based distributor.

Lorraine Hall, Marketing Director of Kestrel Foods, said: “Taking part on successive Invest NI stands at Gulfood enabled us to identify the best way to access business in what is a fast moving and growing marketplace. We discovered, for example, that the only realistic route to market is through distributors.

“In the UK and Ireland we’ve been used to dealing directly with supermarket buyers. This doesn’t happen in the Gulf. We had to take time to find the right distributors with the resources and commitment to sell our products aggressively. It’s also led to us developing Arabic language packaging. Taking part in Invest NI exhibition stands enabled us to gain essential market intelligence and to make important contacts,” added Mrs Hall.

Welcoming the company’s success, Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director, said: “Kestrel Foods is an excellent example of a company which has used our services very professionally to gain a significant foothold in a target market and has then moved on to develop its position in partnership with its distributor there. The company is a good role model for other local businesses seeking to win business in the Gulf and other international markets.”

Gulfood is now firmly established as ‘the gateway for real business opportunities throughout the Middle East’.

The overall food marketing in the Gulf is estimated to be worth £30 billion a year.

Four of the participating companies in Gulfood 2010, Dale Farm, Greenfields, both from Belfast, Finlay Foods, Moira and White’s of Tandragee, have business in the region. Lisburn coffee blender Johnson’s Coffee is taking part in the exhibition for the first time.

The exhibition, held in the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, attracts buyers from Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) markets, including Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East and South East Asia.

The Economist Intelligence Unit projects a doubling of food imports by GCC nations to more than £40 billion by 2020. The event includes sectoral exhibitions such as Restaurant & Café, Ingredients Middle East and Salon Culinaire.

Gulfood, the Middle East’s largest food, drink, foodservice and hospitality exhibition, is set to attract more than 45,000 industry professionals and will involve a record 3,300 participating companies including brand leaders such as Nestle, Kraft Foods, Del Monte, Villeroy and Boch and Hershey.

Dr Kell continued: “Almost 90 per cent of Middle East countries are dependent on food imports, and this dependence presents a tremendous opportunity for food importers, packagers and manufacturers of food processing machinery to generate bigger, better, business particularly in the oil and gas rich states such as Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Oman.

“With rapidly growing populations and increasing consumer income levels across the region, the food and beverage sector is set for fast and profitable growth.

“The potential of these markets for food and drink producers was also emphasised last year in the AT Kearney Global Retail Development Index’s designation of the GCC, as a key emerging market, alongside the likes of China, Russia and Latin America.  

“Significantly, eight of the 20 countries listed in the index are in the Middle East/North Africa region. Opportunities are also developing in the GCC states from substantial ex-pat populations keen to source food and drink from the UK and Ireland. In addition, states including the United Arab Emirates and Oman have developed as major tourism centres,” added Dr Kell.