Market gap in Filipino cuisine in Dubai presents growth opportunity

Emma Banks, panellist at the Caterer Middle East Food & Business Conference, discussed market gaps in Dubai’s F&B
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Panel discussion: Developing Dubai as a culinary destination.
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Panel discussion: Developing Dubai as a culinary destination.

At a panel discussion on developing Dubai as a culinary destination at the Caterer Food and Business Conference 2018 held earlier this month, Emma Banks, general manager at Jumeirah Restaurant Group commented that she believes there’s a market gap for Filipino cuisine in Dubai’s F&B scene.

When moderator, Sanjay Murthy, who is the co-founder and MD at Figjam, asked the panel about bringing successful restaurant concepts to Dubai, Banks said that she one way to address it is to look at the current market gaps.

“I think there are two folds to the question here… I think there is an underground of local eateries that we don’t necessarily know about,” Banks pointed out.
Banks further commented that local regional cuisines have been the focal point for a couple of years now. “When we talk about destination Dubai, first of all Middle Eastern food like Lebanese is still the number one acquired cuisine here so there’s a swell of local restaurants. Only in 2016 did we start talking about the rise of Emirati cuisine, so I do think there is opportunity there,” Banks added.

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But when it comes to fine-dining, Filipino cuisine presented a noticeable gap in a city where there are comparative fewer gaps in terms of cuisine offerings.
“Indian community has a slew small restaurants that serve its core populous. However, one community I think is under-represented in Dubai and where there’s a growth opportunity, is Filipino cuisine – there is actually a gap,” Banks asserted.

Commenting further on market gaps and trends, Banks noted that whether it’s creating a unique restaurant concept or bringing in an international franchise, the market presents risks on both sides. While unique restaurants are cost-heavy, franchises could end up taking over and dominating the cuisine unless due research is done to bring something that will be an asset to the exiting market, Banks asserted.

The conference was held on March 6, 2018 at Grosvenor House in Dubai.

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