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Revealed: Most common, popular foods in UAE as eating patterns shift post-Covid

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Cereals remain the most popular and most common food that is eaten by UAE residents followed by vegetables and fruits as eating patterns of the people are gradually shifting towards value-added, convenient, and healthier alternatives after the coronavirus pandemic, said a new report.

“Being the staple food of the region, cereals will continue to remain the most consumed food category. However, it is expected to witness a modest growth rate over the five years as compared to the rest of the food categories.

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“The vegetable food category is projected to secure the highest annualised growth rate while consumption of meat in the GCC is likely to record marginal gains as consumers turn health conscious amid the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases and growing demand for fresh produce and pesticide-free food with high nutritional value,” according to the GCC Food Report released by the UAE-based investment banking advisory firm Alpen Capital.

The growing population, coupled with expatriates and tourists returning to the UAE and the GCC following the Covid-19 pandemic, have supported the rise in food demand.

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In the UAE, cereals accounted for 37.4 per cent of the people’s meals on average while fruits and milk/dairy products accounted for 17.6 per cent and 8.5 per cent of the total, respectively. Among the other categories, vegetables accounted for 17.4 per cent and meat made up 11.8 per cent of total food residents ate.

Going forward, the report projected that the meat in the residents’ diet plan will substantially increase followed by vegetables, cereals, fruits and milk.

Alpen Capital forecasted that the food consumption in the UAE will grow 3.3 per cent from an estimated 8.8 million metric tons (MT) in 2022 to 10.4 million MT in 2027, driven by strong economic growth, coupled with a healthy rise in population, pushing sales for restaurants in the country to Dh86.4 billion ($23.5 billion) by 2027, a growth of further grow by 48 per cent.

The UAE has established itself as a gastronomical hub for global cuisines. Notably, Dubai has attracted a host of globally renowned chefs and culinary innovators to establish their food outlets. The city has more than 13,000 F&B outlets, including Michelin-star restaurants.

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