The German producer of beverage and food ingredients and has 15 other such centres around the globe. It has had a sales office in Dubai for several years and some applications facilities, but decided to expand this due to the market opportunities identified in the region.
Dubai's Food Processing industry was recently valued at US$ 3 billion, with annual growth of 11 per cent. According to Middle East Food magazine, food processing in UAE was the sector that attracted the highest investment in 2005 – almost US$9bn.
The company’s approach is to combine technical know-how with market and consumer insight. It sees major global trends, such as natural foods, health and weight management, as holding true to the Middle East, but some local trends also hold sway.
For instance, fruit pieces and fruit cells in beverages are seen as a way to boost quality, indulgence and mouthfeel, and “drinks tend to be overtly sweet, with typical sugar levels in the range of 12-16 per cent,” according to the company.
Carbonated soft drinks are the most popular category. However the Islamic world is also keen on malt drinks, which are a non-alcoholic mix of malt extracts and fruit juice. This is a relatively new concept that provides an alternative to beer, “with similar drinking properties, use occasion and positioning potential”.
The functional beverage segment is also an area of interest, with growth seen worldwide. However the company has identified the need “to reflect local market needs to deliver relevance and brand positioning”.
Herbert Eickmeier, senior marketing manager at DoehlerGroup, told FoodNavigator.com that the Middle Eastern market is an important one for the company. Doehler does not release information on regional sales.
The new application centre will allow tailor-made developments to be made locally, “in the heart of the Middle East marketplace”.
Doehler will be taking part in the Gulfoods trade show in Dubai next week. Eickmeier said the company will be showcasing new smoothie developments, a natural energy drink, malt beverages, and its sweetener range.