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Emerging trends in fats and oils segment in the Middle-East
Monday, 03 February, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Shital Nagre
The Middle-Eastern diet falls under the category of Mediterranean diet. Both the Middle- Eastern and the Mediterranean diets emphasise the use of olive oil, fish, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and legumes as primary food. Since saturated fat and cholesterol are only found in animal-based foods, this kind of diet is very low in both. Instead heart healthy fats, like mono saturated and omega-3 fatty acids provided by olive oil and fish are the primary source of fats.

Olives are fruit that come from a gnarled tree and are a staple of the Mediterranean diet. People eat them for meals and snacks and use olive oil for cooking and even eat on bread. Top olive producing countries are Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syrian Arab Republic, Morocco and Egypt.

Healthy fat
Olive oil is an essential ingredient in Middle-Eastern dishes, but it also adds a tremendous amount of nutritional value to the dishes. Olive oil is a mono saturated fatty acid which is considered to be healthy fat.

Specially fats and oils are used extensively in food products owing to their characteristic features and they are very important to provide the required physiochemical and sensory features like smoothness, creamy consistency, milky appearance, and flavour. Thus specially fats and oils are considered as business opportunity.

Growing demand
The major driving factors for the market of specialty fats and oils are the growing demand, because of the rise in Middle-East and Africa demand for chocolate and confectionaries’ products, packaged foods, and focus on reducing processing cost. Food applications of specialty fats and oils hold a major share in terms of usage when compared to other non-food applications like personal care and cosmetics.

The Middle-East and Africa specialty fats and oils market is segmented on the basis of type into specialty oil type. Specialty oils are segmented as palm oil, soybean oil, coconut oil, rapeseed oil and others whereas specialty fats are segmented into coco butter equivalents, coco butter substitutes, coco butter replacer, exotic fats. On the basis of application, the market is segmented into chocolate and confectioneries, bakery, dairy, processed foods and others. On the basis of form, the market is segmented into dry and liquid.

On the basis of geography, the Middle-East and Africa market is analysed under the region Middle-East and Africa. The countries in this region are emerging economics and thus are expected to provide huge potential for the specialty oils and fats market.

Dynamic category
Middle-East and Africa oils and fats market was worth US$100 million in 2016 and estimated to be growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 9.1% to reach US$150 million by 2021. The market is showcasing evident potential in the mentioned forecasting period. The market continues to gain momentum with the increasing development in the industry. Apart from sunflower and olive oil other edible oil are also expected to remain a dynamic category in the Middle-East and Africa with a 5% CAGR forecast. While the sunflower oil is forecast to remain the largest edible oil category, it is expected to remain outperformed by olive oil, with a CAGR forecast of 7%. Despite increasing unit process, olive oil is set to be the most dynamic edible oil category in the Middle-East and Africa.

As olive oil is considered a staple in Mediterranean cousins, this influx naturally increased demand for olive oil in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and also driven by consumers who are becoming more health-conscious and deem this type of oil healthier than other.

Few olive presses
A comprehensive overview of this industry in GCC countries shows that they rely on importing crude or semi-refined oil for refining. There are only a few olive presses mainly in Saudi Arabia, while vegetable and animal fats are mainly produced within dairy factories operating in GCC countries. Palmolein is the most prevalent in the GCC countries because of its relatively low price, and large Asian communities accustomed to it.

Moreover, there is an increased consumption of other types such as sunflower, corn and olive oil. As for soybean oil and in spite of its nutritional value, its consumption is still low because people are still not used to it. Most vegetable oil producing countries, specially major corporations, attempted to adopt efficient marketing strategies. They have become widely known and the Gulf and other Arab markets and global markets as well. They continuously seek to adapt to the requirements and taste of consumers which helps in increasing shares and boosting exports.

(The author is dietitian at Health Department, Government of Maharashtra. She can be contacted at
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