Food imports to the Gulf region may more than double over the decade according to forecasts presented by the UAE's minister of trade, it has been reported.
Lubna Al Qasimi told a seminar at food fair Gulfood in Dubai that imports would grow from $25.8bn in 2010 to $53.1bn in 2020, based on estimates from the Economist Intelligence Unit.
According to forecasts, consumption of food in the region should reach 51.1 million tonnes in 2020, with average annual growth of 4.6 percent, the Arab Brazil News Agency reported.
It said projections, according to the minister, were based on the expected growth in population of the GCC, which could reach 50 million by the end of the decade.
In the UAE, the second biggest market in the region behind Saudi Arabia, imports are set to grow from $3bn in 2011 to $8.4bn in 2020.
Food consumption in the country should grow 5.4 percent a year on average.
Al Qasimi said the restaurant sector was slated to grow 30 percent over the next four years, to be worth $780m.
Highly dependent on food imports due to the lack of fertile lands, the countries of the Gulf are increasingly attempting to tackle the issue of food security.
The United Nations estimates that $70bn in additional investment each year will be necessary to guarantee the supply of the global population by 2050.
“For a region such as the Gulf... there is an added urgency to secure [food] sources that are safe and sustainable,” Al Qasimi was quoted as saying.