Processed Frozen Food in the Gulf

Processed Frozen Food in the Gulf

  • The growth of processed frozen food industry in the Gulf is driven by convenience, as more and more families are now having both partners who are full time employed there is a growing demand for quick and easy cook meal solutions.
  • Going forward the growing health and wellness trend is expected to positively influence the eating habits of consumers who will be seeking fresher and leaner meat, lower-fat chicken and gluten-free products, as well as more vegetables.
  • Frozen processed food will remain more affordable than fresh produce, hence, consumers will still be willing to purchase frozen processed food even if they have to compromise on the health benefits.

The process of freezing food in order to preserve it is an age old practice, it freezes all the moisture present in the food to ice. This in turn slows down the growth of bacteria which is responsible for food degeneration. The method is mainly used in preserving food such as meats, seafood and vegetables.

In Processed Frozen Food industry the various products are frozen at extremely low temperature (- 40 degrees) through a method called flash freezing or blast freezing. Food Products frozen in the above manner do not require any further preservative to be added. Since microorganisms do not grow at temperatures’ below -9.5 degrees and the standard for storing and transporting frozen food products is -18 degrees, the products continue to maintain their original state so long as the cold chain remains intact.

In the Gulf this is a growing category and convenience seems to be the key driver of this growth. As more and more families are now having both partners who are full time employed there is a growing demand for quick and easy cook meal solutions. Processed Frozen Food is being seen as a key category which is fulfilling this need cutting across all nationalities.

The Product Group with its various sub groups & segments is highlighted below:

Product Groups Meat Seafood Dough Vegetable
Product Sub Groups Chicken Beef Shimps Fish Flat Breads Other Dough Prod. Vegetable Others
Product Segments Chicken Beef IQF Shrimps Fish Fillets Paratha Croissants IQF Vegetables Samosas
Burgers Burgers Breaded Shrimps Whole Fish Chappati Filled Puff Pastry SpringRolls
FrankFurters Kebabs Marinated Shrimps Fateera Pastry Sheets
Kebabs Meatballs Bread Sticks
Nuggets Pizza Base
Breaded Fillets Muffins & Cakes
IQF Cuts

The Frozen Food category in the GCC consists primarily of the above Product Groups, Sub Groups and Segments. However based the contribution of these Sub Groups and segments may vary from country to country in the region.

While Chicken Frankfurters is the biggest category contributing almost 45% of Processed Meat Group in UAE and Oman, Mince is the biggest contributor to the group in Saudi Arabia. However between Frankfurters, Mince, Burgers, Nuggets, Breaded Fillets & Kebabs they contribute more than 75% of the Processed Frozen Meat category throughout the region.

Processed Frozen Food in the Gulf1

Processed Frozen Food in the Gulf2

Frozen Sea food is another major category in most of the countries of GCC because of the strong consumer preference for seafood like Shrimps & Fish Fillet etc. Although its contribution to the overall Frozen Food market is not as big as Meat.

In the Frozen Dough Group flat breads sell across countries in the region due to the large population from South Asia, followed by others categories consisting of Croissants, Bread Sticks, Muffins & Cakes, and Pizza Base, etc which are mainly used by the Foodservice sector. The sales of Puff Pastry Sheets is predominantly during the Ramadhan season by both Foodservice and end Consumers.

In terms of the brands that are available in GCC we can classify them as follows:

  • International Brands
  • Regional/ Local Brands
  • In House Brands

Amongst the International brands we have Sadia from Brazil at the top of the list followed by Doux from France and Emborg from Denmark offering an assortment of products. There are also a host of other international brands present only in the Chicken Franks segment from Brazil, Denmark, France, Turkey, etc.

Regional brands are those which are produced within the region and have a region wide presence, like Americana, Al Kabeer, Al Areesh, Khaleej, Al Islami, etc. Then there are some local brands that are available in a select few countries of the region like As Saffa(Oman & UAE) and number of local brands in Saudi Arabia & Qatar. These brands offer an assortment of various products mainly in the frozen meat Group.

Processed Frozen Food in the Gulf3

Processed Frozen Food in the Gulf4

A number of major retailers have also extended their In-house brands into the Frozen Food category and are gradually taking over large part of the frozen food shelf. All major regional retailers like LULU, CARREFOUR, CO Ops, PANDA, etc have now got their in house brands contract manufactured and are occupying prime shelf space, however they are restricted to their own out lets only.

Going forward the growing health and wellness trend is expected to positively influence the eating habits of consumers who will be seeking fresher and leaner meat, lower-fat chicken and gluten-free products, as well as more vegetables. Vegetables are likely to replace carbohydrates, which will boost sales of frozen processed vegetables.

Furthermore, the convenience factor will continue to drive this Segment as consumers will lead busier lifestyles and seek easier meal options. The product offering of Frozen Food is likely to see a change from the current “Ready to Cook” products to “Ready to eat” or “Heat & Eat” kind of options so we are likely to see a growth in Flash Fried products in the meats subgroup or Pre baked Parathas etc. in the Dough sub group.

Frozen processed food will remain more affordable than fresh produce, hence, consumers will still be willing to purchase frozen processed food even if they have to compromise on the health benefits. However the demand for lower-fat and organic frozen processed food items is likely to grow steadily over time.

The article is written by Subbooh Moid for Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review


Mall Medicine

Mall Medicine

  • This article contains a brief description and brief outline of the history of retail medicine as well as future trends of retail medicine in the US and the UK, including both recent success and failures.
  • The article then goes on to describe how the concept could be quite lucrative in the GCC and what are the milestones needed to bring retail medicine to the Gulf. 

There is an interesting new trend sweeping the western world; healthcare is moving away from hospitals and setting up shop in malls and other large retail outlets.

I was first introduced to the concept of retail medicine at the 2007 World Innovation Forum in New York City. Seen by many medical doctors as the scourge of traditional primary care, retail medicine has revolutionized the delivery of medicine through its own unique interpretation of disruptive innovation.

It all started on a wintry weekend in 1999, when American entrepreneur Rick Krieger took his sick son to an urgent care center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rick knew his son needed his throat tested and soon enough, after a two-hour wait, a strep throat test was finally done.

Like many parents before him, Rick believed that there had to be a quicker, more convenient way for experienced parents and patients to get quick healthcare diagnoses, so he teamed up with a physician and a nurse to put the limits of traditional medicine to the test.

Started as QuickMedx (and soon rebranded as the Minute Clinic), Krieger’s convenience care concept was simple – treat the 20% of disease that cause 80% of the visits to primary health centers (an essential extension of Paraeto’s 80/20 principle).

To keep costs down, Krieger and his team decided to staff these ‘mini clinics’ with resident nurses instead of physicians (pushing the boundaries of clinical practice) and locate the clinics within large retailers (thereby forgoing much of the costs such as building and servicing of restrooms).

Today, with over 500 clinics and close to 2 million mostly walk in, cash paying customers with a 99% satisfaction rate, the Minute Clinic (through its partnership with CVS Caremark Corporation) has opened up the US market to a whole new age of medicine. Even traditional medical power players such as the Mayo Clinic, have extended their brands into the retail medicine space, in this case via the Mayo Express Clinic.

More significant is box retailer Wal-Mart efforts, which started with a pilot program in 2005 for 75 clinics in 12 US states and and has since expanded to include plans for 6,600 medical clinics by 2012 through a partnership with various retail medicine companies such as RediClinic. Across the Atlantic, British supermarket giant J Sainsbury will also be adding government-paid doctors to some of its stores, where shopping patient will be alerted by a pager when their appointment arrives.

The ability now exists to put your next medical checkup on your grocery list.

The popularity of retail medicine lies in the trend of patient convenience. People want to have flexible visiting times. This is the millennium of multitasking and retail medicine is moving fast up the healthcare continuum as a complement to larger primary care clinics and hospitals.

In the UK, employees spend around 3.5 million working days a year traveling to and from doctors, costing the British economy close to $2 billion (estimated by the Confederation of British Industry). In the US, insurers have also advocated for increased healthcare options through retail medicine as evident by CIGNA Healthcare members in Dallas, Texas being offered convenience through the insurer’s addition of MedBasics Family Health Centers to its network.

However, the success of retail medicine is not without its share of skepticism. Many people and institutions (American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics,) are concerned about quality of care, hygiene issues and the limited scope of the clinicians running these ad hoc facilities. These issues, coupled with an inability to maintain the salaries of healthcare professionals, have forced retail medicine corporations such as CheckUps and Take Care Health Systems to shut down multiple walk-in clinics in both Wal-Mart and RiteAid respectively.

Industry experts estimate that a company can consume $300,000 to $600,000 to finance and maintain a retail clinic, breaking-even at about 25 to 30 patients a day. This should be no problem for retailers within the GCC, where the desert heat pushes the average consumer to frequent the mall over 70 times per year (according to Dubai based market researcher GRMC).

The GCC retail industry is an extremely attractive sector globally, according to At Kearnery’s 10th annual Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) which ranks seven countries from the MENA region make it into the top 20 in the 2011 index of top ranked emerging markets for global retail expansion, including Kuwait (5th place internationally), Saudi Arabia (ranked 7th) and the UAE (ranked 9th).

With over five million square meters of retail space currently available in the GCC (worth over $100 billion and expected to treble in the next nine years according to Retail International), proprietors of retail medicine should have no problem carving out a niche for themselves with the right strategy and scope.

Developing a retail medicine concept specifically for the GCC would require significant investment and expertise. A number of detailed assessments need to be taken into account, starting with scope of service where the individual retail clinics must have a well-defined and limited scope of clinical services that falls within the local government regulations and is catered to local cultural norms. Also, an evidence-based medicine approach to clinical services and treatment must be implemented and quality improvement-oriented, in addition to the selection of the highly specialized staff.

Once the scope and staffing have been completed, an international partnership may be necessary to bring international best practices to the GCC.

The operations of the facility must be also carefully considered, with a team-based approach encouraged. Even retail walk in clinics should have a formal connection with physician practices in the local community, preferably with family physicians, to provide continuity of care. Other health professionals, such as nurse practitioners, should only operate in accordance with local regulations, as part of a team-based approach to health care and under responsible supervision of a practicing, licensed physician.

Most importantly, a steady referral stream also needs to be established where the clinic must have a referral system to physician practices or to other entities appropriate to the patient’s symptoms beyond the clinic’s scope of work. The clinic should encourage all patients to have a “medical home.”

Finally, it is also essential to have electronic health records set up to gather and communicate the patient’s information with the local healthcare providers.

The article is written by Dr. Mussaad Al Razouki for Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review

Health Tourism in the UAE

Health Tourism in the UAE

  • Some Arab countries have all the factors required for a successful health tourism industry and Government support can help these countries become popular health tourism destinations
  • The U.A.E. is positioning itself to become a hub for global medical tourism and a preferred destination for domestic and foreign patients seeking high quality and cost effective procedures and treatment
  • While Dubai has many things going for it which make it an excellent health tourism destination, there are some challenges it faces such as competition from some South Asian countries and availability of affordable medicine

Health Tourism is increasingly becoming a successful investment strategy in the west and far-east countries. Governments have supported this sector primarily for its anticipated contribution to the development of the economy through generation of revenues and for its potential impact on improved quality of healthcare services. However, some of the Arab countries are also in a position to make this sector a very successful industry as they do have all the factors that can make it happen. Some of these factors are; natural hot spring and mineral waters and state of the art medical centers as well as the abundant resources for investing in cutting edge healthcare services. The GCC spends an approximately USD 30 billion on overseas treatment yearly. Therefore, there has to be some strategies to shift the burden from the Government, one way of doing that is by promoting health tourism in the GCC through developing this sector and support it with all required legislations and policies that are conducive to creating a favorable environment for its growth.

The U.A.E. is positioning itself to become a hub for global medical tourism and a preferred destination for domestic and foreign patients seeking high quality and cost effective procedures and treatment. The U.A.E. is already home to a number of high-profile partnerships which seek to bring Western technology, practices, and standards to the U.A.E. in an efficient and culturally relevant manner. The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Mubadala—is scheduled to open its 360-bed multi-specialty tertiary care hospital in 2015 , The Johns Hopkins University Medical School works in partnership with Tawam Hospital, a 466-bed facility in Al Ain. The Dubai Healthcare City; consists of two free zones—a medical cluster and a wellness cluster—on a total of 23.2 million square feet of land and has attracted a number of top U.S companies and institutions as its key partners.

The U.A.E. has positioned itself as an attractive investment prospect for U.S. companies seeking to expand their footprint in the Gulf region. The country presents a substantial growth opportunity within the framework of strong regulatory oversight and ambitious plans to expand and improve healthcare coverage for its growing population. Through strong partnerships and direct investment opportunities. As per business monitor international report its expected that the health spending in the UAE will reach 11Billions US Dollars by 2015. Therefore, health tourism was consider as a sector which can contribute to the economic growth of the country.

Dubai has taken the initiative of promoting the city in the medical tourism hub in the 2012. Dubai is the most diversified economy in the GCC. Currently over 2 million residents from over 150 different nationalities lives in Dubai. It has its own Independent regulatory body established to ensure international standards in patient safety and quality of care. The health outcomes compare well to international benchmarks and clinical guidelines have been introduced. There are Over 4,750 doctors/ physicians speaking over 40 languages and centers of Excellence offering treatment for a wide range of specialties. This is to ensure that our community and our health tourism receive the best of care and feel safe. Geographically Dubai is only four hour flight from one third of the world’s population and within 12 hours for the remaining two thirds. As a health tourism it save on average between 30 to 60% on the cost of treatments when compared to the US. The high standard of living helps in attracting and retaining physicians and nursing staff compared to the other countries in the Middle East. And above all, the growing tourism sector and the expanding airlines networks (The Emirates and Al-Itihad airlines) make an excellent opportunity for promoting a travel driven medical tourism hub in the UAE.

Despite these forth mentioned favorable conditions, however looking at the market, there are challenges that Dubai will face and could be hard to change without a comprehensive plan, these include;

  • Competitive prices for treatment in the region; offered by India, Thailand and Singapore.
  • Nationals still seek health care in competitive countries.
  • Availability of world class, quality medicines at affordable prices.

The article is written by Laila Al Jassmi for Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review

The Nomadic Patient

The Nomadic Patient

  • The following article contains a brief description and outline of the history of current trend towards medical tourism from the GCC to countries with higher perceived levels of healthcare in the Western world.
  • The article then goes on to describe how the concept of medical tourism is evolving, with GCC medical tourists now seeking cheaper healthcare (Healthcare Along the Silk Route: Middle East to Asia Medical Tourism) as well as specialized healthcare services in a different GCC country.
  • Finally, the article goes on to outline key challenges and opportunities for GCC governments and private institutions with respect to patient migration.

Much has been written recently in the popular press on medical tourism, medical travel, health tourism, or global healthcare, which all basically pertain to the fact that many people are traveling outside of their country to receive medical treatment for one of three reasons:

  1. The treatment is not available in their home country
  2. The treatment in the destination country is (perceived to be) superior
  3. The treatment in the destination country is cheaper

My own personal experience with medical tourism occurred back when I was still a clinician. I was on an extramural maxillofacial surgery rotation at Mass General Hospital of Harvard University a few years ago, when a Kuwaiti patient and his brother were brought into one of the patient rooms.

“Nothing is too expensive, please do everything you can for my brother,” was a phrased constantly echoed. My patient had been in a motor vehicle accident resulting in a compound fracture of his mandible (lower jaw) that had subsequently cartilaginized since it had been almost three months since his traumatic accident.

Here I was, an aspiring Kuwaiti surgeon treating a Kuwaiti patient 3,000 miles away from Kuwait in a Harvard hospital as an extern, I was completely shocked and dismayed by the situation afoot. Was it that my patient could not receive adequate care in Kuwait? At least some form of treatment that would prevent his wounds from attempting to heal in the wrong position? Or was it the long and tiresome process of applying for overseas healthcare for three months that resulted in his complicated medical state?

This is just one example of medical tourism and how it fits neatly with the trends towards globalization.

More and more Middle Eastern patients are traveling for both acute, chronic and cosmetic healthcare. According to most calculations, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) governments alone spend well over ten to 20 billion US dollars on sending their citizens abroad for healthcare.

Complicating the matter further, different government agencies typically send their own employees abroad. The following is a brief outline:

  1. Ministries of Health
  2. Local Health Authorities – this is the case in Abu Dhabi and Dubai
  3. Military – including the Army, Navy, Police and National Guard
  4. Foreign Ministry
  5. Oil Sector
  6. Amiri Diwan/King’s Decree – official ministry (office) of the ruler of the country

As to which countries patients are sent to. The top countries usually include the US, UK, France and Germany, with Germany the top country in the case of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, versus the UK for Kuwait. Surprisingly enough, the Bahraini Ministry of Health sends close to 2/3rds of its overseas patients to neighboring Saudi Arabia, whereas the Omani Ministry of Health prefers to send the majority of its patients east to India. The Kuwaiti government for example, used to rely on the foreign offices of the Kuwait Airways Corporation to manage the international patient flow and overseas healthcare budgets. Today, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health has its own Overseas Health Offices in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt, which work closely with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assist patients in their treatment abroad both administratively and financially.

Even though there will always be a need for GCC government’s to send patients abroad for specialized care, it is widely accepted that the current model of overseas healthcare is not sustainable. Local GCC governments are increasingly investing in the local healthcare infrastructure and encouraging free market dynamics to stimulate private investment in the healthcare.

Privately, an increasing number of GCC patients are seeking treatment along the (ancient) Silk Route – traveling to India, Thailand and as far as China for cheaper healthcare that is perceived to be of better quality.

I believe that a private sector solution to overseas healthcare may provide an optimal interim solution – governments in the GCC should outsource the administration of their overseas healthcare to experience third party administrators (TPA) with an international network and experience as many global companies already do for their own healthcare needs. However, it is imperative that the government actively monitor the TPA by setting key performance indicators and targets to ensure that a quality service is delivered to its citizens. This efficiency will allow the GCC governments to not only send more patients (in the near future) but to also control both its cash flow and overall cost of sending patients abroad. Such measures will hopefully reduce the projected ten to 20 billion dollars of spending by 2020 to a mere fraction.

The article is written by Dr. Mussaad Al Razouki for Arab Business Review

To read more thought-leadership stuff by leaders from Arab Region, please visit Arab Business Review