15 Nov

Top ideas for setting up an F&B business in UAE

Food is one of the resources that will never fall short of demand across the world. Thus, with a population close to 10 million, the need for food in the UAE is naturally set to rise. The country is home to Emiratis as well as expat residents from across the globe who bring with them not just cultures but plenty of cuisines too. Therefore, you can look into setting up an F&B business in the UAE.

Typically, one may think that the F&B industry includes businesses dealing in fresh, pre-cooked, and packaged food and beverages. However, companies that manufacture, package and supply food also fall in the same sector. 

Top picks for your F&B business in the UAE:

From small tea stalls to massive factories processing meat, there are diverse business opportunities in the UAE’s F&B industry. Listed below are some of our top picks:

1. Food manufacturing


Food manufacturing is the process of changing the natural state of any raw or agricultural product to an edible form or transforming one consumable food product into another. With the ease of sourcing raw materials from the region as well as Africa, Asia and Europe, you can produce food in large volumes, given that you install suitable equipment in your factory and build a good workforce.
Here are some of the food items you could consider manufacturing – oil; spices; fruit concentrates, colours and syrups; dairy products like milk and cheese; meat and poultry such as eggs and sausages, confectionaries such as cake, ice cream, sweets and bread; juices and beverages; spices and ingredients that can be used to produce other food items; etc.

2. Food packaging 


It is crucial to preserve takeaways and ready-to-eat food when moving and storing them. With brands and consumers becoming more conscious towards the planet, reusable and recyclable packaging has gained huge popularity worldwide. From bamboo cutleries to packets made of banana leaves, eco-friendly packaging solutions for food is a profitable business. 

Some innovative food packaging products you could supply comprise degradable cutleries, paper straws and carry bags, reusable containers made of glass or steel, and bamboo plates and bowls.

3. Product distribution and food aggregator

Product distribution and food aggregator

One of the essential aspects food business is distribution. Food producers and suppliers are always on the lookout for trustworthy distributors who can ensure the products reach the right markets and consumers. 

The UAE imports food from all over the world and these products sell with the help of well-connected distributing companies that supply to wholesalers, caterers, supermarkets and groceries.

At the same time, food aggregators are in the business of delivering freshly prepared food from outlets. The end consumers can place their order through the aggregator’s website or mobile application and make payments online or at the time of delivery. This trend shot up sharply during the pandemic as people were either restricted or refrained from physically visiting food outlets.

4. Foodstuff trading


In the first three quarters of 2021, the food and beverage trade in the UAE reached around AED 73.5 billion according to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce.

Recent data from the UAE’s Federal Competitiveness and Statistical Center reveals the products that had the largest share in food trade as follows:

  • 1. Fruits and nuts 
  • 2. Meat
  • 3. Dairy
  • 4. Oil seeds
  • 5. Cereals
  • 6. Other edible food products

Now you know what items to trade in!

5. Cloud kitchen


Setting up a cloud kitchen, also known as ghost kitchen or virtual kitchen, is a fairly new entrant in the UAE’s F&B industry and is preferred by new-age investors. Cloud kitchens are large food production facilities with open kitchens that can be shared by multiple companies. These companies do not have any dine-in space for customers and offer only delivery options through tie-ups with food aggregators.

Cloud kitchens are sought after by entrepreneurs who want to get into F&B business in the UAE with low investment. This way, they can save the cost of leasing a space for a restaurant, hiring staff to serve clients and managing the place and maintaining the outlet.

6. Food truck


The UAE is a tourist and business hub where the fun never stops! Be it a business zone or an amusement park or an exhibition or a farmer’s market, one can always find food trucks catering to hungry crowds. While some serve simple items such as icecreams and shawarmas, others can even prepare roast and steaks. This is suitable for those with a love for food but not enough capital to set up a full-fledged restaurant.

7. Indoor farm


The UAE aims to reduce its high dependency on food imports, by creating a nurturing environment for agricultural businesses to develop new farming technologies and enhance the country’s future food security. This is good news for food tech companies. Solutions like verticle farming are already producing a good amount of fruits and vegetables, and there is scope for a lot more.

8. Restaurant/café/cafeteria/coffee shop/bakery

Restaurant café cafeteria coffee-shop bakery

With a sufficient budget, supportive partners, a prime location and new marketing tools at hand, you can start your very own restaurant business in the UAE or set up a cafeteria. Small cafeterias in residential neighbourhoods, as well as corporate areas, do quite well as people often prefer grabbing a quick roll and tea or sandwich and juice on the go. Caffeine addicts and those with a sweet tooth would not miss your coffee shop or bakery if you put together a cool interior decoration, do social media promotions, and add some special items to your menu.

Need help setting up your F&B business?

If you need assistance opening an F&B business in UAE, you can count on the set-up experts at Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ). From helping you choose the right business license to obtaining the necessary authority permits for setting up your food and beverage company in the UAE, they will guide you every step of the way.

Contact RAKEZ now for a free company set-up consultation. Call +971 7 204 1111 or send an email to info@rakez.com.


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Last Updated on 12/29/2019 9:23:05 PM

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