Fresh Up Your Life, the CSO Italy project funded by the European Union, supports the distribution
of high quality, nutritious and healthy products, in the United Arab Emirates with a particular
focus on sustainability and traceability of the supply chain to meet the growing market’s demand.
Next appointment at the 28 th edition of Gulfood scheduled from 20 to 24 February 2023 in Dubai.
Dubai, 20 th January 2023 – In the first half of 2022, the UAE recorded an import rate of over 41,000
tonnes of food per day. The figure is forecasted to grow due to a number of factors, including the
growth of the population, the strong demand for imported products by foreigners living in the
country and the significant expansion of the tourism sector with a high number of new hotels and
resorts opened in recent years.
The multiculturalism of this country – about 88% of the total population is a foreigner – results in
different food habits which translate into a variety of cuisines and a diversified demand for fresh
Consumers in the UAE have begun to include more fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. The
government's commitment to address the alarming rates of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular
disease among the population and the recent pandemic, have changed the local consumption
scenarios; according to a research commissioned by the Irish Food Board, 50% of the consumers
from the UAE declared that they increasingly choose foods that help strengthen their immune
system; 52% agree with the importance of the traceability factor in the products they consume
and 56% think that quality standards are even more important today.
The UAE imports most of the fruit and vegetables available in the country and there is a strong
interest for the high-quality European products.
Fresh Up Your Life, the CSO Italy project funded by the European Union, support the promotion of
high quality, nutritious and healthy fresh products in the United Arab Emirates until 2025,
highlighting the themes of sustainability, clarity and traceability of the supply chain. The following
Italian companies also participate in the programme: Apofruit Italia, Cico-Mazzoni, Conserve Italia,
Lagnasco Group, Oranfrizer, Origine, Unacoa. Kiwis, apples, pears, blood oranges, pureed tomatoes
(considering that pasta is the most imported product in this area) are the products on which the
project will focus on.
In the UAE, “Made in Italy” food is particularly appreciated for the uniqueness of tastes and flavours
(first distinguishing feature for 26% of consumers), for the typical and traditional recipes (21%) and
for the high quality of the raw materials (17%). Furthermore, Italy leads the ranking of quality: 20%
of UAE consumers believe that Italian food products have better distinctive qualities than products
from other countries. (Source: CRIF and Nomisma). The segments of the population most likely to
recognize the merits of European agricultural products are middle-class young people from big
cities, with a medium-high level of education and income, who travel and are interested in quality
imported products, of which they prefer appearance, safety and taste, and Western expats who are
already familiar with European foods.
Italy is one of the UAE main suppliers of kiwis (42% of the total value in the fruit and vegetable
category), peaches (32%) and plums (6%).
“The increase demand of genuine products and the healthy lifestyle trend, represent an important
driving force for the growth of Italian fruit and vegetable which are recognized and appreciated by
the local consumers for the high quality" declared Paolo Bruni, President of CSO Italy. "With the
Fresh Up Your Life project we will encourage the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables with
both B2B and B2C initiatives, rewarding the quality, the transparency and the traceability of our
supply chains. The next appointment will be in February at Gulfood, the most important event in the
Middle East for the food and beverage industry, a crossroads of flavours and trends at an
Italy is the European leader in the production of kiwis with 330,150 tons in 2020 of which 246,824
tons (75% of the total) are produced by CSO Italy Members. As for apples, Italy is the main producer
along with Poland, with 2.6 million tons produced in 2020 of which 1.7 million tons by CSO Italy
Members. Italy is also leading in the production of pears, with 611,000 tons in 2020, of which
306,000 tons produced by member companies of CSO Italy. Finally, tomato puree exceeded 1 million
tons in 2020, of which 530,000 produced by CSO Italy members.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UAE is one of only four countries in
the world, together with Switzerland, Iceland and Azerbaijan, where all residents can afford the cost
of a healthy diet. In the report "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022" the
estimated cost of a healthy diet in the UAE from 2017 to 2020 was between 2.75 and 3.11 US dollars
per day. The report also points out that a healthy diet is based on a wide variety of unprocessed or
minimally processed foods, balanced across food groups, and include whole grains, legumes, nuts,
and an abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of eggs, dairy products,
poultry and fish, and small amounts of red meat.