Middle Eastern consumers are showing a fast-growing appetite for eggs. According to the latest data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), US egg imports to the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region grew 73 percent in USD value in 2017 over the imports in 2016. This represents a volume growth of 88 percent for US table eggs and 83% for US egg products.
Both consumer and industrial egg consumption has increased as demand has grown in the region. A growing population, rising incomes and evolving dietary patterns are sparking demand, supplemented by a thriving tourism sector.
Within the MENA region, the fastest growing importers of US eggs were Bahrain, which grew 1713 percent in value in 2017 over 2016, Jordan (559 percent), Oman (168 percent), KSA – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (107 percent), and UAE (65 percent). The growth is especially important even as local egg production in the region is growing and some of these countries are close to self-sufficiency in eggs.
Anne L. Alonzo, AEB President & CEO said: “Today’s consumers are showing great interest in where their food comes from, and their modern approach to life drives them towards choosing top quality products from around the world. A larger proportion of consumers prefer whole shell eggs for meal preparation and direct consumption, and US eggs are their top choice. Eggs are highly functional ingredients and their versatility also comes in handy for snack manufacturers, bakers and confectionary producers. We see our task cut out for us, which is creating awareness of their availability, their attributes and advantages versus other imported eggs.”
Other key factors that helped US egg and egg product exports to the Middle East include the expansion of the retail sector with new super and hypermarkets opening each year and the growing presence of expatriates who opt for imported products. In addition, the region has embraced the concept of all day breakfast-serving restaurants, and eggs constitute major components of breakfast meals included in waffles, pancakes, omelets, French toast, crepes and all kinds of sandwiches and entrees. This trend has room to grow further with more dining outlets expected to open in the region. In the area of logistics that are geared up for egg transport and storage, UAE is at the forefront of adopting new technologies with automated warehouses aided by robotics. It is also conducting experiments with autonomous vehicles and drone deliveries for efficient and faster last mile deliveries.