- Food trade within the OIC is highly fragmented, varying from as little as 3% to 66% between countries, requiring synergies between exporters
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: In a significant development for the global Islamic food industry, the UAE has become the new headquarters of the International Islamic Food Processors Association (IFPA), a subsidiary of the International Organisation for Islamic Food Security (IOFS) established by the founding members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in December 2020. As one of the 16 programs of the IOFS, IFPA was first registered in the Astana Financial Center.
Today, the new headquarters of IFPA was inaugurated by Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, at a ceremony held at the Al Etihad Museum in the presence of the guest of Honour H.E. Oussama Abdel Rahman Kaissi, CEO of the Islamic Corporation for Investment and Export Credit Insurance (ICIEC), dignitaries, state representatives from member states and business leaders.
H.E. Mariam Almheiri said, "We congratulate IFPA on the opening of the new headquarters, affiliated with the Islamic Organisation for Food Security in Dubai. This demonstrates the pivotal role played by the UAE in fostering strong trade relations within the OIC, promoting investments among the member countries, and developing the food industry."
Her Excellency added, "Cooperation is what we should work towards in order to improve our collective food security on sustainable foundations, which will also help address climate change. This can be done through the adoption of innovative technologies and solutions throughout the food value chain. As part of the UAE's Year of Sustainability, and in view of the COP28 to be held later this year, we aim to accelerate work on adopting modern solutions for agriculture and nutrition at the local and global levels." In this regard, Her Excellency referred to the joint UAE-US Agricultural Innovation for Climate initiative, which received increasing pledges from countries participating in it to the tune of $13 billion for implementing climate-smart agricultural projects in various countries worldwide.
Her Excellency continued, "Transforming food systems has become self-evident to secure a sustainable food supply and fight climate change by reducing emissions from traditional agriculture and food systems. Not only do we play a pivotal role as a regional centre for food trade, but we are committed to strengthening cooperation and capacity building among OIC countries to enhance member states' capacities in food security and climate change.”
The relocation of IFPA's headquarters to the UAE marks a pivotal moment in this endeavour, as the country is a global trade hub and a strategic location with world-class infrastructure and an advanced regulatory framework. Despite the fact that more than 25% of the world's consumers come from OIC countries and spend around 15% of the US$8 trillion on food in 2021, there is a significant trade deficit in exports as many of them depend on imports from non-OIC countries for staple foods. IFPA's objectives include eliminating trade deficits, streamlining private partnerships and facilitating trade between OIC countries to ensure food security and sustainable processing and supply chains.
The new headquarters is formed under the Dubai Association Centre located at One Central and will play a key role in shaping the future of the global Islamic food industry. As the share of food trade within the OIC varies widely from country to country, from as low as 3% to 66%, there is an excellent opportunity for OIC exporters to work with members who wish to import their goods.
In his keynote address, Prof. Yerlan A. Baidaulet, Director General of the IOFS and Chairman of IFPA, observed: "Dubai being the hub for trade, especially for the food sector, we intend to support the intra-OIC market and address the challenges that exist from the new headquarters. While the Muslim population is growing worldwide, the halal food market globally is still dominated by non-OIC countries. There are several Member States that are experiencing large trade deficits in many staple foods and many that have food shortages. With this in mind, IFPA was established by IOFS to work with the private sector to address the food security challenges in these countries, not only to address the trade deficits but also to promote cooperation and trade among OIC countries and their exports to the world."
The UAE will create an environment conducive to advancing agricultural research and development, investment and technology transfer, and sustainable supply chains. Saleh Lootah, CEO of IFPA and Chairman of the UAE F&B Manufacturing Group, commented, "As the world grapples with the challenges of a rapidly changing global food landscape, IFPA's headquarters in the UAE, which is a hub for food security, sends a strong message of solidarity and cooperation. Under the guidance of IOFS, we will strive to create synergies among the OIC food sector to promote intra-OIC trade to ensure food security for all members and the global community. By pooling resources and expertise, the international community of food producers can realise its full potential and ensure the production and distribution of safe, high-quality halal foods that meet the needs of consumers worldwide."