Pakistan’s food industry is poised to lead in the UAE ?market as major brands are expected to make forays into the country this year, Khaleej Times has learnt. Pakistani food companies made inroads to the UAE market at the Gulfood exhibition in February. The major groups held fruitful meetings at the exhibition and they will start launching their products from June onward, according to industry insiders. K&N’s Foods (private) Limited, a leading name in poultry and meat products in Pakistan, is expected to market its products in the UAE by June. Brands in ?edible oil like Sufi Cooking Oil and Habib Oil, leading herbal trademark Qarshi and confectionery products leader Hilal, among others are also planning to enter the UAE food market this year. “We are in talks with some leading groups and distributors to launch our brand in the UAE and we are confident to market our products by June,” Atiq R. Siddiqui, K&N’s head of exports, told Khaleej Times. K&N’s Foods, which started its operation in 1964, is the first international brand in recent years, which has given permission to export frozen items to the UAE. The brand is considered a beacon for Pakistan’s poultry industry and its halal processed chicken, ready-to-cook and fully-cooked products are popular among domestic consumers. “We have established the brand in Pakistan and now the company is ready to make a foray into the international market. The UAE will be the first international and regional market for K&N’s products,” Siddiqui said. In reply to a question, he said Gulfood is a premier event for food industry. It is considered a good opportunity to interact with stakeholders to promote the brand and explore new business opportunities, he said. “We showcased our products at Gulfood and received a good response from local businesses. We are in discussion with some leading names to launch our brand in the UAE market,” he said. As many as 23 Pakistani companies in the food business attended the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai this year and displayed their full range of products in Pakistan pavilion. The exhibitors had fruitful meetings with the local importers and indenters and most of them are optimistic to launch their products at competitive price in the Gulf markets. “Gulfood like yesteryears proved extremely effective to our endeavours to broaden food products exports from Pakistan. The exhibition can rightly be considered as Makkah of food industry,” Bilal Pasha, commercial counsellor at the Pakistan Embassy, told Khaleej Times. Pasha said K&N’s Food is a premium poultry brand in Pakistan and is known for its best quality. “It has over the years gained strong foothold in Pakistani market and is now fully geared up to serve international clientele. It is the only poultry brand, which has received due regulatory permission from relevant UAE authorities,” he said. “At Gulfood, our companies received serious enquiries and were also able to strike a few deals ranging from distribution of products to joint venture partners in the UAE and other regional countries,” he said. To a question about the Pak brands’ entry into the UAE market, he confirmed that leading Pakistan brands in frozen meat, edible oil and herbal products are set to launch their operations in the emirate that will boost food business between the two countries. He said different basmati rice brands from Pakistan are already well-entrenched in local market. Jawed Ali Ghori, managing director, Matco Rice Processing (private) Limited, also plans to expand business in the UAE and other Gulf markets through an established base of his company in Dubai. “We have recently launched Falak basmati rice in the UAE and received a positive feedback from the consumers. We will expand our operations in other GCC states from Dubai,” Ghori said. Pasha said Pakistan is considered as food basket for the Gulf region. “There is immense potential for further food cooperation particularly in view of Gulf countries’ endeavour to have strategic food partners. From commodities to ready-to-eat food items, Pakistan’s food industry is poised to lead in UAE market,” he said. Pasha said the volume of Pak exports to the UAE touched $1.8 billion in 2011 out of which food group exports were to the tune of $500 million. “There is, however enough room to expand keeping in view the UAE’s global food imports of more than $7 billion annually,” he said. In reply to a question, he said some projects in food business are in the pipeline that will further strengthen the bilateral trade relations. “There are a few joint ventures ranging from farmland acquisition to joint production of commodities, fruits and vegetables and building of state-of-the-art food silos are in the pipeline,” Pasha said. Asif Jabbar, director and group chief executive of Alif Investments, welcomed the entry of Pak brands into the UAE market. “We have successfully launched many Pakistani brands including the Junaid Jamshed and Meat One. It is good to see that more Pakistani brands in food business are set to enter the local market,” he said and cautioned the new entrants about the stiff competition in the local market. “The marketing of a new brand in the UAE is not an easy job amid competition from international and regional brands. One should be aware of marketing cost and other expenses in an international commercial city like Dubai to find place in the competitive market,” Jabbar concluded.