Paper examines opportunities to leverage Fourth Industrial Revolution advancements to boost agricultural production in GCC region.
Dubai Industrial City, one of the largest industrial hubs in Dubai and a member of TECOM Group, has launched a report titled ‘Global Food Trends to 2030: With a Closer Look at the GCC’ in collaboration with The Economist Intelligence Unit. The report, which the Park commissioned in an effort to contribute to the body of knowledge around the food manufacturing industry in the region, was launched in a special event on the sidelines of Gulfood on Monday, February 18, endorsed by the presence of Her Excellency Mariam Al Mehairi.
Saud Abu Al-Shawareb, Managing Director of Dubai Industrial City presented key findings from the report, which identifies 20 global agri-food trends indicating the planet’s prospects for the future, and how this relates to the Gulf region, from the manufacturing stage to the supply chain. The release of the report reinforces Dubai Industrial City ’s continuous commitment to develop the industrial sector, from manufacturing to complementary logistics and trade in the UAE and to elevate Dubai’s position as a global hub for innovation-driven businesses in line with the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030.
The whitepaper highlights the ability of countries within the region to harness the technological advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to boost agricultural production, with the UAE leading the way. It also suggests that through leveraging its role as a significant trade hub, the region can position itself as a pioneer in fostering trade in sustainably sourced food with its associated economic benefits, and help reduce food supply risks at a time of increasing global trade uncertainty.
The report calls for a full assessment of the economic, environmental and technological risks facing the Gulf region’s food system. Furthermore, it weighs the region’s challenges – including dependency on imports, reduced agricultural capacity and limited access to freshwater – against its opportunities and strengths, such as the emergence of technological advances in agriculture, high trade volumes flowing from Asia to Europe and Africa, and vice versa, as well as world-class ports equipped with state-of-the-art technologies.
The whitepaper states: “Given recent global trade developments (rising tariffs, the proliferation of regional trade agreements and potential realignment of trade flows), the GCC is presented with an opportunity to demonstrate its leadership in promoting open and efficient food trade. Moreover, the emergence of new technologies to improve supply chain integrity and productivity will be particularly relevant for reasserting the region’s food trade leadership.”
Commending the UAE’s efforts in the field, the document cites the example of a joint project of Dubai government-owned Emirates Flight Catering and US-based food production innovator Crop One to build the world’s largest vertical farm using hydroponics that can serve as a model for public-private partnerships in this space.
In her keynote speech during the event, Her Excellency Mariam Al Mahairi, Minister of State for Food security said: “I am excited to be here today during the milestone of Dubai Industrial City’s whitepaper launch, as this will help us further understand where the trends are directed today. At the Food Security Office, our efforts are aimed at achieving food security, today and in the future, and the wise leadership has placed food security among its top national priorities.”
“In November 2018, we developed the National Strategy for Food Security where we placed short term outcomes for 2021 and long-term outcomes for 2051, and with that, we aim to position the UAE as world’s best in the Global Food Security Index by 2051 and among the top 10 countries by 2021.”
Speaking at the launch event, Saud Abu Al-Shawareb said: “Dubai continues to strengthen its non-oil economic sectors, particularly food and beverage (F&B) and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) – one of the target sub-sectors of the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 that aims to advance industrial development in the emirate and increase its overall contribution to the GDP.”
He added: “As a taskforce leader in realising Dubai Industrial Strategy, one of our objectives at Dubai Industrial City is to generate relevant industry specific knowledge about technological advancements and the latest trends to accelerate development in this field taking into consideration issues such as food security and climate change mitigation.”
The whitepaper features in-depth interviews with food experts, academics and senior food company executives from around the world, including the GCC region. Its case studies focus on food security challenges, environmental damage, health and nutrition, and opportunities that technology presents.
The report concludes: “How countries and supply chains respond to the vast array of food issues, including the 20 agri-food trends identified in this report, could very well be a leading indicator of how the planet’s overall prospects will be defined for the future. Successful approaches to producing, supplying and consuming food, touch on every issue including health, environment, rural and urban populations, human and animal rights, social stability and governance, and jobs, livelihoods and prosperity. Managing food could become the global catalyst for positive change or, if improperly handled, it could accelerate the deterioration of ecosystems, people’s health and societal stability.”
Dubai Industrial City , one of the largest industrial and manufacturing hubs in Dubai, provides state-of-the-art infrastructure and integrated solutions for businesses. The park hosts over 250 factories and over 700 business partners in sector-specific zones. Key business partners in the food and beverage sector include Al Barakah Dates, Barakat, Almarai, Patchi, Alshaya, Asmak, and Lulu.
Key opportunities in the GCC region:
The whitepaper highlights three opportunities to enhance food manufacturing and as a result improve food security in the GCC region:
Greater attention to national food security strategies:
By leveraging our role as a regional trade hub, we can position ourselves as leaders in fostering trade in sustainably-sourced food, with its associated economic benefits, and further help to reduce food supply risks at a time of increasing global trade uncertainty.
The emergence of controlled systems for facilitating local food production:
As a region that faces key agricultural constraints (such as those related to water and soil), new technological advances emerging in the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ can help us create and Up Scale domestic food production opportunities, for example: by expanding non-traditional agricultural production (such as hydroponics).
A shift in mindset towards the circular economy:
Pursuing more sustainable practices, such as improving food waste management and considering food production and supply with a life-cycle in mind, can help us deliver economic efficiencies and unleash innovation across the food system. This, in turn, can improve the industry’s environmental footprint, food supply and a host of related social issues, such as poor nutrition.