Opening up the market

As the number of hotel and restaurant openings soar in the region, the need for more produce has also increased.

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By  Laura Barnes Published  November 23, 2006

|~||~||~|As the number of hotel and restaurant openings soar in the region, the need for more produce has also increased. But although the market has some key suppliers when it comes to sourcing fruit and vegetables, meat and even alcohol, the market needs to open up and let more suppliers in. But it is the niche market where suppliers are needed, in part due to the increasing number of international chefs entering the region, and also because chefs already working in the Middle East are pushing for more produce akin to Europe and Asia. There are a number of suppliers that hold a large share of the market, but whether sourcing Italian meats or spices from India, a company that specialises in these products is more likely to give chefs better quality and knowledge. Indeed, there are already some companies in the region serving these needs, including Wet Fish and Middle East Trading. Both companies know their fields of expertise, and as such, work hard to source the best products they can. However the market is changing, and people from the catering industry frequently tell me that over the past four years the market has developed, with ‘cowboy’ suppliers being pushed out of the market to make way for more professional outfits. But despite all of this, they still say there is room for more. But how can this be done? Although chefs may say they want better produce and more choice, they need to talk to the producers and push to get their products in the region. This is clearly evident in the beverage market. Although three main players currently dominate the beverage scene in Dubai — due to licensing laws — more than two years ago there was only MMI and a+e. Emirates Fine Wine was then established, and has focused its efforts on supplying high-end wines to the Dubai market, to much success. So it can be done, but it takes planning, time and most of all, an actual demand in the market. It is no good chefs and restaurant managers saying they would like to see more suppliers in the region, they have to make a conscious effort to get the products they want into the market, because at the end of the day, it comes down to the simple economics of supply and demand.||**||

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