Fresh Fish project in Dubai

Italian restaurateurs and managers of some of the top restaurants in the UAE capital are enthusiastic about the opportunity of being provided plenty of fresh fish from the Mediterranean for their restaurants (Sass, Roberto’s, Okku, La Petite Maison, Cheryl at the Capitol Club, and the Cipriani in Abu Dhabi). Dubai is indeed an extremely rich and paying market for international haute cuisine products.
Our challenge was then to bring fresh fish from the Adriatic Sea to their tables. This aimed at providing very different flavors compared to the ones of the frozen fish coming from the Atlantic, the Mediterranean or the Omani coasts, where fish abounds, but where little attention is paid to the cold chain – with inevitable drops in the quality of the product.

We then carried out a market analysis with a trip to Dubai on the occasion of the largest food industry fair, Gulfood, and selected a suitable local importer to participate in the project together with the Italian company in charge of supplying, preparing and shipping the fish. This also allowed us to identify some particularly interesting trends regarding the potential of the Local Market.
This area’s economic potential derives from the important presence at the Fair of many exhibitors from all Continents, both at institutional level and as individual Companies. The Gulf Area benefits from a strong economic wealth, due to its energy resources in the subsoil, to the number of people living in the countries that compose it and to the increasing increase of the tourist flow.

This last consideration applies today especially to Dubai but it is easy to think that in the next few years the same will be true for Qatar and Oman. At the same time, the lack of a large food production capacity, due to weather and climatic conditions, the conformation of the territory and to other historical and cultural factors, makes it necessary to import most of the foodstuffs, products and technologies necessary for the agricultural and food sectors.
The value assigned to the “made in Italy” brand emerges in many ways: several countries and non-Italian manufacturers use or abuse typical Italian names (the so-called Italian Sound effect) to promote products ranging from pasta to cheese to sliced salami and desserts. Lasagna, gnocchi, more generally “pasta”, “mozarella” (with only one z), “parmisan”, “olive oil” and more, as well as the company brands called “Nonno Mario” and / or other, are the perfect example of this trend, which we see in French, Australian, Moroccan, Spanish and Qatari companies.
The same trend is confirmed in the local large-scale retail, where the above-mentioned brands can be found in several Carrefour, Spinneys, Choitrans and Geant.

Fresh Fish sector

The analysis of the Local Market in Dubai shows that a large quantity of fresh fish, estimated by local official sources at about 600 tons a day, comes from the seas of neighboring countries, Oman and India, with a highly varied daily supply combined, however, with poor quality due to the non-existent cold chain.
The fish arrives on boats without iceboxes and is exposed at the Deira Fish Market on benches at room temperature throughout the day, from 6 am to 11 pm, with outdoor temperatures that easily reach 30 degrees even in February, or in refrigerated containers placed in truck boots after three to four hours on the road. These factors will make certain elements of our project profitable, especially the marketing plan.

Most professional buyers on this market are local restaurateurs, while the largest hotels and trendiest local restaurants get their supply from foreign markets through the largest local importer (Fish Express). Sea bass and sea bream from Greek and Turkish farms, and sole from the French Atlantic are, together with tuna, prawns, oysters, clams, mussels, lobsters, lobsters and live giant crabs, the main products on the market.
The analysis of the menus collected during our stay proves that a portion of farmed sea bass or Atlantic sole is sold, respectively, at € 95 and € 65 per portion.
This shows that a high quality Italian fish can be highly interesting for this market segment, which represents our target audience.

The distributor selected through our research activities on the local market, Simply Gourmet Foodstuff LLC, is an operator with 15 years of experience on the catering market of certified Halal fresh meat products of Canadian origin.
In addition to having a clientele of about 140 customers (hotels and restaurants), most of which (around 70) own Italian restaurants, the distributor owns a branded counter in the Gourmet rooms of the Galerie Lafayette. The counter supplies all the restaurateurs inside the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping mall in the world, located close to the Burj Khalifa, the highest building in the world.

The owner, Mr. Wahid Kandil, intends to expand this distribution with a counter for fresh Italian fish. As his business, which currently sells about 40 tons of fresh meat a month, keeps growing, he is strongly interested in diversifying his offer of products, broadening its scope to include large-scale retail, and has acquired new premises with refrigerated cells to better cope with the growth rates forecasted for the coming years.
We then decided to send the first shipment on Friday 27/02, as during the meetings the importer highlighted the possibility to receive the goods on Saturday morning via a Lufthansa flight. The importer is available to distribute the products to 5-6 selected restaurateurs that will receive a crate with a mix of different products. At the same time, the importer highlighted the importance of organizing the subsequent shipments directly from Italy, with pre-mixed boxes for each final Customer.

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