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Dubai, UAE January 19 , 2016
The UAE (United Arab Emirates) has climbed to become the fifth-largest export market for Californian almonds and the domestic market is growing, according to The Almond Board of California, which represents over 6,800 growers and handlers in ‘The Golden State.’

Figures released by the Board show, the UAE is now importing almost 100 million pounds of the health-giving Californian nut a year – narrowly short of India’s 124 million pounds import tally that puts the sub-continent giant in third place as the state’s most important almond importer. Vitally, the Board says both markets are “growing.”

“The Almond Board of California is excited at the potential of almonds in this market as our products significantly add to the diet quality of the African and Middle-East markets. Pakistan is also emerging and important destination for California almonds,” says a Board spokesperson.

California produces 82% of the globe's almonds, harvesting about 800,000 acre of the tree nut across a 400 mile stretch from northern Tehama County to southern Kern County. Almonds are now the state’s premier agricultural export with approximately 70% of its crop selling to over 90 countries worth approximately US$4.8 billion, according to USA’s Department of Agriculture.

With the almond’s growing popularity as a healthy snack and ingredient, the Board will mount a major trade engagement push at next month’s Gulfood exhibition - the world’s largest annual food and hospitality trade show - at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) to court increased exports to the Middle- East and sub-continent.

At the show, which will welcome more than 5,000 international companies from 120 countries from February 21-25, 2016, the Board says it will “introduce ourselves to trade and food companies across the Middle-East and Africa and use it as a forum to strengthen our engagement with trade in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.”

High on the Board’s agenda will be a bid to get Middle-Eastern and sub-continent buyers to sign up to its Trade Stewardship programme, which focusses on sharing technical, nutrition and consumer information with food companies looking to boost their business through almond and almond-related product sales.
“The information we provide gratis has helped several food companies across the world in handling, processing and storing almonds as an ingredient for manufacturing and, of course, as a healthy nutritious snack option,” said the Board’s spokesperson.

The Board has now identified the Middle-East as one of three “priority regions” for trade development and is planning to launch a regional market development programme. “Our programmes bring together the three legs of market development, namely market access, trade stewardship and marketing,” the Board spokesperson added.

In addition to the Almond Board of California, Trixie LohMirmand, senior VP, exhibitions & events management, DWTC, believes growing demand for ‘health food’ products is a trend emerging across the Gulfood 2016 profile.

“Gulfood is now acknowledged as a real trend-tracker for product and service demand right through to import / exporter indicators and this year is no exception as the show deliver more tastes, more trends and more trade,” explained LohMirmand.

“There’s an increasing presence of healthy ingredients suppliers which, in some cases, even extends to greater involvement in the region’s own agricultural production. This trend indicates the extensive public awareness campaigns implemented by regional health authorities and providers to combat rising incidences of obesity and diabetes are resulting in a mounting consumer demand for healthy eating products. With consumers become more demanding, sophisticated and wellness-aware, the domestic health food market is thriving.”

The show is expected to attract 85,000-plus visitors from more than 170 countries including international heads of state, ministers, government officials and national trade associations from five continents.

The show is a strictly trade-only event for business and trade visitors. It is open 11 am-7 pm from February 21-24, 2016, and 11 am-5 pm on February 25, 2016. Visitors can pre-register at www.gulfood.com to save AED100 (US$27) on the AED300 (US$81.70) on-site entry fee.

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