The UAE is at the center of the vibrant coffee and tea industry activities in the Middle East
Coffee and tea remain popular beverages in the Middle East. Coffee drinking has long been a tradition in many Arab countries, but tea consumption has eventually penetrated the regional market with the influx of tea-loving expatriates on its shores who swear by its numerous health benefits.
The UAE is at the center of the vibrant coffee and tea industry activities in the Middle East. Consumption in the emirates is not only high but it also serves as a re-export hub for hot drinks, including coffee and tea, and other similar items. According to a report released by the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brazil), the country exported $368.7 million worth of coffee and tea in 2015, 42.7 per cent of which went to Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kuwait, Oman, and other key international markets.
While coffee still accounts for a bigger chunk of the UAE’s total hot drink sales, tea and other powder-based hot drinks have been steadily catching up over the year, the report further notes. The same Apex-Brazil study shows that the local hot drinks market will be valued $1.01 billion in 2019 from $774.5 million in 2015.
Additionally, industry experts are upbeat that the UAE’s coffee market alone will experience over 30 per cent growth in the next four years, noting the continuous upsurge in demand.
Zagat, the food and beverage (F&B) online resource, has said that more than 4,000 tea and coffee houses are now operating in the country, serving 82 per cent of the population who admit to drinking coffee each day. Also, as per the findings of the Euromonitor International, the UAE now accounts for 8 per cent, or $6.5 billion, of the $85 billion global consumer spend on coffee. The number could further skyrocket by up to a third by 2030, Euromonitor added.
Young consumers with high disposable income in the UAE are the main market influencers and growth drivers, prompting companies to offer new flavors and ingredients with a modern twist to satiate the young generation’s taste and demand.
Specialty coffees such as organic ones as well as teas known for their health benefits are fast gaining ground in the region in light of a growing number of consumers who are now looking for healthy food and beverage choices and alternatives. Apex-Brazil says it is for this reason that beverages such as fruit tea, Italian coffee, and hot drinks with added vitamins and minerals will continue to draw consumer attention.
The Tea Company’s new brand of loose-leaf tea is another example of a healthier alternative beverage and so does the Cold Brew Green Tea. Both have no artificial flavors or other chemicals. Cold Brew Green Tea is stored in a refrigerator to bring out its sweet and smooth taste. Cold-brewing is also said to be environment-friendly because it promotes energy conservation by eliminating the water heating process.
Other types of beverages that are becoming more popular among bold coffee and tea lovers include the specialized nitro coffee beverages, which are made into perfection by adding nitrogen to cold brew coffee; coffee-infused teas, which are created by drying the coffee cherry husk and mixing it with the tea blends; and the healthy mushroom coffee drinks, which are prepared by mixing mushrooms to the blend. With the mushroom flavor hardly noticeable, the latter is not only nutritious but also helps relieves stress without the coffee jitters.
Healthy alternatives are just one of the influential trends that are reshaping the regional market.
Aside from centering on healthy beverages, the regional market has also taken a keen interest on sustainability initiatives. Take for instance in Dubai where efforts are being deployed to reduce waste and raise environmental consciousness among citizens and residents. For instance, coffee shop owners, in line with Dubai Municipality’s directives, encourage their patrons to bring their own mugs or cups when ordering their favorite drinks. This would help reduce the use of disposable cups in coffee and tea cafes. Across the UAE, many have adopted the same cause as part of their initiatives to become responsible corporate citizens of the nation.
Other regional market trends include home roasting and sourcing of green beans from China. Moreover, coffee and tea store owners are also re-strategizing to meet the taste and preferences of the millennial generation. They aim to lure them by making their stores more inviting and alluring to their senses – creating a comfortable space that promises a new experience and will help stimulate creative collaboration with their peers. More comfortable and inviting furniture and tables are now common sight in coffeehouses.
Coffee and tea drinking is a lifestyle adopted by many in the Middle East, and as such, the demand will only continuously climb without let up.
By: Anselm Godinho
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