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Dubai boosts appeal as global gateway for Latin American coffee

Dubai gateway Dmcc Coffee Centre
Inside the DMCC Coffee Centre in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Dubai is fast becoming a global gateway for Latin American coffee that is enabling exporters from the region to capitalise on growing demand in the UAE and Middle East and North Africa, industry experts said during a recent webinar co-organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC).

The virtual event, titled Dubai:Gateway for Latin American Coffee to the Middle East, was joined by 388 participants from the UAE, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica and other Latin American markets.

Speakers included Ahmed bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman of DMCC; Omar Khan, Director of International Offices, Dubai Chamber; Carlos Costa, Director of Commodities ED&F Man Dubai; Mohammed Mohammed, Senior Manager- Corporate Sales, DMCC; Marco Bellinato, Head of Coffee, DMCC Coffee Centre; Maria Pavani, Founder & CEO, Tres Marias Coffee; and Khalid Alzir, Business Development Manager, Wejar Coffee.

Presentations and discussions during the event highlighted the vast potential for boosting Latin American coffee exports to the UAE and Middle East and North Africa, recent market trends and key factors driving global demand for coffee products.

According to DMCC, UAE coffee imports from Latin American reached $26.2 million in 2019, growing by an average rate of 20% over the last five years. Brazil, Nicaragua, Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru account for the largest share of Latin America coffee exports to the UAE, while 60% of all coffee stored at the DMCC Coffee Centre originates from Brazil.

Addressing participants during the webinar, Bin Sulayem explained how the DMCC Coffee Centre is playing a crucial role in driving coffee trade in the region and positioning Dubai as the coffee gateway to the world. He highlighted the strong presence of Colombian coffee and the increasing interest for coffee from Central America and Costa Rica, in particular.

“Situated at the crossroads of East and West, Dubai is fast becoming a global hub for the coffee industry and the city’s connection with Latin America is of course key. With the DMCC Coffee Centre, we have built an ecosystem that provides all the support and infrastructure required to service the international coffee industry across the value chain. Leveraging its longstanding ties with Latin America, combined with its expertise in facilitating the trade of commodities, DMCC seeks to maximise the opportunity presented by coffee and contribute towards the industry’s overall growth. Encouragingly, despite the evident global challenges, we continue to witness a growing interest from Latin American companies seeking to capitalise on Dubai’s existing relationship with some of the fastest-growing markets in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and beyond,” said Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC.

In his welcome remarks, Omar Khan, Director of International Offices, Dubai Chamber, described coffee as a high-potential area where the UAE can expand its trade with Latin America. He noted that Dubai offers a strong value proposition and vast competitive advantages to Latin American coffee exporters such as its strategic geographic position providing easy access to markets across the GCC, Middle East, Africa and Asia, 100% foreign ownership, ease of doing business, investment incentives and world-class facilities such as the DMCC Coffee Centre.

Facilitating coffee trade between Latin America and Dubai is a key focus of Dubai Chamber representative offices in Brazil, Panama and Argentina, Khan said, adding that the Chamber organised several trade missions and events focused in recent years, which have connected UAE industry players to coffee suppliers in various Latin American countries, while it continues its efforts to attract companies from the region to Dubai.

Carlos Costa, Director of Commodities ED&F Man Dubai, discussed the growing demand for coffee in Middle East and North Africa and pointed out that Latin America supplies 24% of regional demand. He said there is untapped potential as coffee consumption in the region is expected to see strong growth due to changing consumer preferences and identified Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Central America as key markets that can help meet this growing demand.

Mohammed Mohammed, Senior Manager- Corporate Sales, DMCC, presented an overview of the facilities and services that DMCC offers to foreign companies establishing a presence in Dubai. Marco Bellinato, Head of Coffee, DMCC Coffee Centre, elaborated on the storage and processing capacities of the DMCC Coffee Centre, and explained how international companies are using the Centre to roast, blend, test, pack and ship coffee to markets across the MENA region. The webinar also featured two success stories from industry players in the UAE and Brazil. Khalid Alzir, Business Development Manager, Wejar Coffee, shared his experience of how he procured coffee products from Brazil for Wejar Coffee. Maria Pavani, Founder & CEO, Tres Marias Coffee, told her story as a Brazilian entrepreneur who set up her company at DMCC’s Coffee Centre, and said the move enabled her to sell specialty coffee to Dubai coffee shops and other markets in the region.