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New agreement gives Australia a fine food entrée to Dubai.

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DAFF04/043WT - 3 March 2004

New agreement gives Australia a fine food entrée to Dubai

Australia is set to establish a new entry point into one of the most lucrative markets in the world with the signing today of an agreement in Canberra between the National Food Industry Strategy (NFIS) Ltd and one of Dubai's largest food importers, Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss announced today.

The agreement signed by the Managing Director of Barakat Vegetable and Fruit Company, Subranamian Jayaram, and NFIS Managing Director Richard Brooks will develop a direct chain from Australian premium food producers and suppliers into Dubai's 5-star hotels.

Mr Truss, who chairs the National Food Industry Council, welcomed the new agreement.

"Barakat has been operating in the United Arab Emirates, and beyond, for more than 20 years and has a proven track record with the five-star hotel market," he said.

"Their clientele includes the royal palaces and some of the world's most luxurious hotels, such as the Royal Mirage and the Burj al-Arab, and they have an established reputation for only providing the best quality food products.

Mr Truss said that Barakat also intends opening its own business unit in Australia.

"It is a great vote of confidence in the quality of Australian food producers and suppliers that this Memorandum of Understanding has come to fruition, and NFIS is to be congratulated on their work to achieve this agreement."

Barakat representatives visited Australia in November 2003 on a product capability visit with their principal customer, Executive Chef Paul Lenz of the Royal Mirage Hotel.

"Chef Lenz obviously liked what he tasted and was keen to 'buy Australian' as soon as possible," Mr Truss said.

Since then, Australian premium meat products have been tested in the Dubai market and plans are in place to roll out seafood in April - with Sydney chef Peter Doyle giving a master class to his counterparts in Dubai - and other food products by September.

"The potential of this MOU cannot be overstated," Mr Truss said. "Dubai is a regional hub for distribution, tourism, business and investment throughout the Middle East and is a well-serviced logistics hub.

"I understand that the five-star hotel market in Dubai is almost incomparable to anything we know of in Australia.

"Their customers differentiate on quality, not price, and they expect the very best. It is only natural then that Barakat would look to Australia's farmers, fishers and food producers to meet the demand for quality produce."

The types of products targeted under the MOU include premium beef, veal and lamb, rock lobster, oysters, prawns and finfish, cheese and other premium food products and beverages.

The National Food Industry Strategy is an industry-led organisation, funded by the Australian Government, which drives the national food strategy, a five-year blueprint for growth in the Australian food industry.

"The NFIS plays a pivotal role in bringing together food businesses and a wide range of Federal and State government agencies involved in export for the benefit of the Australian food industry," Mr Truss said.

The NFIS is the Australian Government's $102 million, five-year strategy for boosting food industry export performance.

The total value of the food service market in Dubai is estimated at up to $US300 million, with anticipated annual growth of 10% over the next five years. Over 1.2 billion meals were served by the UAE food service industry in 2000.

Australian food exports were valued at $26 billion in 2002. Food exports to Dubai in 2002-03 were valued at $130 million.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433 NFIS: Bonita Mersiades 02 6270 8800 or 0416 071 000

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