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Carrfields opens up Middle Eastern markets for Kiwi food producers

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The appetite for New Zealand food among affluent locals and expatriates in the Middle East presents a huge opportunity for Kiwi producers, according to a leading agribusiness group.

Ashburton-based Carrfields, which opened an office in Dubai late last year, has identified the Middle East as holding extremely high potential for New Zealand food producers looking for new export markets.

This is owing to the high demand among consumers in the Middle East for food products which carry high standards of quality, provenance and safety.

Graeme Wilkins, Chief Executive of Carrfields Middle East, says Dubai is well-established as a key global trading hub for agricultural products, enabling entry into affluent markets where consumers are keen to access food from trustworthy sources. However, this has been under-utilised by New Zealand producers to date, he says.

"Several UK and American food brands are already well-established in the Middle East and New Zealand is on a very strong footing to compete, because of our great reputation for producing quality food," Mr Wilkins says.

While New Zealand’s reputation for quality is a key advantage, global consumers also believe New Zealand products to be trustworthy, safe and high quality, which is an even bigger requirement emerging from the global food industry, he says.

"Consumers want to be able to trust that the food they serve to their families is what it says it is. With food supply chains becoming longer and more complicated, New Zealand’s reputation for quality, transparency, honesty and integrity offers a key advantage when it comes to the trustworthiness of our food provenance."

Leveraging this reputation is a cornerstone goal of Carrfields Middle East, which has grown rapidly this year with the appointment of several new people to the team. The Dubai office now employs six people, including specialist traders focusing on commodities, forage and fresh produce; as well as administration and management staff.

The team members, who come from several nations including New Zealand, were selected to join Carrfields because of their expertise in their specialist areas as well as their connections in the Middle East.

Starting last year with supplying forage to the large dairy industries in the UAE, the office has since expanded to include agricultural commodity trading. However, with the UAE known as an affluent market where consumers are willing to pay a premium for quality food, Carrfields has identified this area as the key opportunity for future growth, says Mr Wilkins.

"Where I see the real opportunity for New Zealand businesses in this region is food. So we’re linking with New Zealand producers to market and sell their produce in the Middle East, although we are also dealing in related areas such as wool products, as well as continuing with the forage business."

Carrfields is particularly looking to work with Kiwi producers who are looking to expand their export markets into the Middle East, but are finding it difficult to break in to the market.

For example, many producers who already export to China have identified the Middle East as a new market with very high potential, but are facing barriers to entry because of a lack of marketing and trade contacts based in the area, Mr Wilkins says.

"We’ve established our office deliberately to provide a marketing and trading hub to facilitate sales, and a point of contact for New Zealand producers to access the UAE with a team of well-connected experts focused on bringing New Zealand produce to the Middle East," he says.

"We’d now really like to hear from innovative Kiwi producers and suppliers who are wanting to get their products out to the world. We are keen to partner with more New Zealand brands to facilitate their Middle East distribution and showcase their products on a global stage, so we invite them to get in touch with us."

Part of facilitating this is establishing excellent networks in the region, which Carrfields is building through employing traders with broad experience dealing with Middle Eastern customers, he says.

"We are also in discussions with some key potential business partners based in the UAE who have large customer networks in the region, including high end hotels, restaurants and airlines. We’re tremendously excited about introducing New Zealand’s best-quality produce to clients at this level."

The geographically-strategic nature of the Middle East, which provides ready access to Asia, Europe, India and Africa, provides further potential for the future, Mr Wilkins says.

"We’re excited about the future of Carrfields in the UAE and wider GCC markets and envisage our Dubai operations eventually becoming a hub for New Zealand products that can be marketed and sold throughout the Middle East and beyond."

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