Thursday July 18, 2024

Pakistan food exporters confident of boosting market share in Saudi Arabia

By News Desk
May 24, 2024
This picture shows an Indian shopkeeper selling basmati rice. — AFP/File
This picture shows an Indian shopkeeper selling basmati rice. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Buoyed by an overwhelming response at the “Saudi Food Show 2024” being held in Riyadh, Pakistani food exporters on Thursday said they were confident of increasing their market share in the Kingdom, Arab News reported.

The Saudi Food Show is the Kingdom’s largest annual event for food and beverage sourcing. The event is being held in Riyadh from May 21-23 where over 1,000 exhibitors from 97 countries are taking part in the exhibition. Among the exhibitors are also thirty Pakistani companies that are taking part in the event, the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) said.

“The annual demand for rice in Saudi Arabia is 1.2 million tonnes and Pakistan’s share is only 7 percent at present,” Chela Ram Kewlani, chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), told Arab News.

“We are expecting to increase our share after this exhibition.”The Saudi groundbreaking platform convenes a distinguished global contingent of exhibitors, thought leaders, industry communities, strategic partners, innovative brands, and acclaimed chefs.

The Pakistan Pavilion at the event featured 30 companies comprising 15 from the rice sector, 12 from the processed food sector, two from the meat sector, and two from the dairy sector, the TDAP said.

Pakistani rice exporters hope to achieve a new milestone in exporting the product after India decided last year to ban rice exports. India, the world’s top rice exporter, banned the export of non-basmati white rice last year to control its rising domestic food costs and maintain domestic supplies.

The move prompted Pakistan’s rice exports to increase by more than 80 percent this fiscal year to $3.28 billion. REAP officials hope rice exports will cross $3.5 billion mark by the end of the current financial year.

Praising the response received at the Saudi Food Show, Khalid Ghori, a representative of the leading Pakistani agribusiness Matco Foods Limited, hoped “the market will be fruitful for Pakistan in the coming days.”

“Large number of people including importers and exporters visited our stalls and we hope that the market will be very fruitful for Pakistani products,” Ghori told Arab News. Pakistani food exporters also participated in a three-day major food and beverage trade show held last week in Canada’s Montreal.

SIAL Canada featured about 10 Pakistani companies that displayed various products including beverages, dairy products, rice, pink salt, sweet snacks, seafood products, fresh fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, frozen and ready-made products.

Meanhile, the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) in a statement said the country has made its debut at the Saudi Food Show 2024, with 45 leading food companies showcasing their products.

"The Pakistan Pavilion featured a diverse array of high-quality food products, highlighting the country's rich culinary offerings," TDAP chief executive said in a statement.

Pakistan's exports to Saudi Arabia are projected to reach $450 million this fiscal year, with significant contributions from the rice and meat sectors. Meat exports are expected to hit $500 million this year, with Saudi Arabia being a major market. In the past ten months, meat exports to Saudi Arabia have totaled approximately $120 million.

The CE of TDAP identified Rhodes grass and Alfa Alfa as promising sectors for trade with Saudi Arabia, with advances in corporate farming and seed quality improvements doubling the cultivation area of Rhodes grass to 32,000 acres this year.