NZ companies visit Expo 2020 and discover the FMCG landscape in the Gulf

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has hosted several fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies with visits to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai and Expo 2020 in the UAE, for a first-hand look at opportunities in the Gulf market.


First off was the 2-day Discover FMCG Saudi Arabia (part of NZTE’s Expo Business Leverage Programme), where the 7 companies that had travelled to market learned more about the vast opportunities presented by the transforming Saudi economy.

We kicked off the programme with a workshop featuring discussions on market entry strategies, a panel with NZTE beachhead advisors Graham Hamilton and Gregory L. Black, and presentations by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority and Ministry of Investment.

Participants then got to visit Lulu Hypermarket, the region’s largest hypermarket operator with more than 200 stores, where they later had the opportunity to pitch their products to the management team.

That evening, New Zealand Ambassador Barney Riley hosted a fantastic networking reception that was attended by more than 50 people, including Saudi dignitaries and members of the Saudi business community. Our delegates had the opportunity to display their products and mingle with industry peers to establish and deepen relationships in the Saudi market.

We had a special guest at the reception: none other than the Hon. Damien O’Connor, New Zealand’s Minister of Trade and Export Growth and Agriculture, who has been in the region for a few days. In addition to delivering some remarks, he took the time to speak to exporters about their products in addition to mingling with the rest of the guests.

On day 2, the delegates visited a high-end Al Nahda pharmacy – part of the largest pharmacy chain in the kingdom. They then moved on to the offices of the General Trading Company – one of Saudi Arabia’s largest distributors – and Al Hokair – a leading hospitality conglomerate – where they also pitched their products to the management teams and got to learn more about doing business in the kingdom.

But the hard work didn’t stop there. It was straight on to Dubai for another four days of Discover FMCG UAE with 6 of the New Zealand companies that had joined us in Riyadh.

En route from the airport, we stopped in Organic Foods & Café on Sheikh Zayed Road, where the new Head of Retail Operations (recently arrived from Wholefoods US) was kind enough to give us a guided tour of the stunning store.

The next morning the programme started in earnest, with a very interesting presentation by NZTE interim beachhead advisor Sebastien Defois. The workshop also featured a fireside chat with the general manager of Truebell Marketing and Trading, a major UAE distributor, and a presentation by Dubai Municipality’s Food Safety Department.

The delegates spent an afternoon and full day visiting a variety of UAE retailers, including Lulu Hypermarket, and supermarkets Spinneys and Choithrams to get an idea of what the FMCG retail scene is like in the country.

This was followed by a networking reception at the New Zealand Pavilion at Expo 2020, where our visitors got to meet industry peers and other members of the New Zealand diplomatic community in Dubai. The Hon. Damien O’Connor, New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Export Growth and Agriculture addressed the guests and spoke of openness and the opportunities for cooperation between the UAE and New Zealand.

Minister O’Connor attended this reception and had the opportunity to speak not just with the representatives of the Kiwi companies who were in market for the Discover FMCG programme but also with other members of the Dubai business community.

On the final morning of the Discover FMCG programme, our delegates got down to business, pitching their products to a selection of UAE-based buyers during an event at Tiaki restaurant in the New Zealand Pavilion. It was a great opportunity for them to meet key people in the industry and shine a light on their amazing products and why they should be sold in the UAE market.

A final photo of the Discover FMCG participants and the NZTE team at the pavilion.