Importing British Food and Drink to the Middle East

January 31, 2024

The Middle East represents a thriving opportunity for British imported food and beverages. Countries across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have seen considerable population and economic growth over the past decade. The GCC food service industry alone is projected to reach £40 billion in revenue in 2024 and is expected to reach north of £70 billion by 2029.

What makes this region even more appealing is the significant expat population. Expatriates make up large portions of many Middle Eastern populations, with over 300,000 British expats living across GCC countries.

Furthermore, the expanding middle class has driven demand for high-quality international cuisine. All these trends are fueling a strong appetite for iconic British produce. This increase in consumer purchasing power and a strong expat influence means there’s never been a better time to introduce British food and drink brands to this growing regional market. 

the middle east

Why Import British Food and Drink to Middle Eastern Countries? 

Britain’s food and beverage industry evokes positive perceptions of quality, safety, and reliability – built on a global reputation of high standards and traceability across supply chains. Rigorous production oversight ensures contaminant-free ingredients and adherence to ethical processes.

For British expats abroad, iconic UK brands also provide a comforting sense of familiarity and home. Timeless flavours transport tastes from childhood and popular UK culture, and iconic British brands tap into nostalgia amongst those feeling homesick.

Additionally, Middle Eastern consumers closely associate British origins with premium quality. Both expats and increasingly internationally connected locals are often willing to pay higher retail prices for UK imports they perceive as exclusive and discerning choices. Tapping into this prestige perspective allows British products to command prime shelf space in the region.


Key British Products in Demand in the Middle East

British food and beverage exports to the Middle East continue expanding across food and drink categories that suit local preferences and satisfy British expats’ desire for familiar flavours from home. 

A quick look at the figures reveals that UK exports to GCC countries reached £870 million in 2022 – a 39.3% increase over 2021 – making the Gulf region Britain’s 2nd largest non-EU market. Notably, the UK exports over 500,000 tonnes of cheese annually to the UAE, demonstrating the strong demand for specific British food categories. 
Specific products driving this growing trade include:  

  • Baked Goods (biscuits, cakes, breads)
  • Chocolate and Sweets  
  • Dairy (cheese, butter) 
  • Juices and Soft Drinks
  • Packaged Foods (sauces, condiments, canned goods)
  • Tea and Coffee
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
  • Halal meat products
  • Fish (salmon, white fish)
stilton cheese

Partner with Leverbrook for Streamlined UK Imports

Importing British products into the Middle East involves surmounting complex requirements related to customs clearances, import duties, registrations, packaging and more. Rather than tackling this alone, why not partner with Leverbrook Export to help you bypass these obstacles?

With over 50 years of specialising in British food and beverage exports, Leverbrook Export intimately understands Gulf import protocols and localisation needs. Our services include:

  • Navigating customs procedures, documentation regulations, and compliance obligations across all Middle East markets 
  • Arabic translation and relabelling services to meet legal requirements of GCC countries
  • Consolidated shipments across air/ship freight optimised to order size
  • Seamless door-to-door import logistics to ensure a smooth supply chain

Our extensive catalogue provides one-stop access to thousands of products from top UK brands, and, combined with our unrivalled expertise, we’re here to help you unlock the full potential of British fare in your local market. 

british food and drink export

Start Your UK Import Journey with Leverbrook Today

As the Middle East’s appetite for British food and drink products expands, Leverbrook Export offers unrivalled expertise in efficiently bringing beloved UK flavours to your market. Working with us allows you to benefit from our streamlined import processes, localised compliance knowledge, and consolidated logistics solutions.  

Ready to meet customer demand for quality British products? If so, call +44 (0) 151 645 3517 or email to place your import enquiry. Our team can assess your needs and return a transparent quote in a matter of hours. 

We look forward to helping you seamlessly stock in-demand goods from Britain’s exceptional producers in the near future.