Over 18,000 tonnes of European cheese imported into the UAE in 2017
Statistics released by the European Union show that the Middle East’s love affair with cheese is continuing unabated. The UAE imported 18,485 tonnes of European cheese in 2018, while Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait imported 17,900 tonnes of French cheese alone.
M. Laurent Damiens, communication director of CNIEL, the official French cheese board, said that F&B operators are helping to drive demand. He said: “Thanks to the evolving tastes of Middle East residents, tourists and business visitors, European cheese exporters are keen to explore opportunities in the region and introduce even more variation to restaurants and supermarkets.
“We’re seeing more and more chefs in the Middle East use it in their dishes which in turn is encouraging others to experiment,” he added.
Among the most sought-after varieties include Camembert, Neufchâtel, Pont l’Evêque, Comté, Morbier, Mont d’Or, Mimolette, Fourme de Montbrison and Époisses.
On cheese’s continued popularity in the Middle East, cheesemonger Francois Robin said: “Cheese is adaptable and can be matched with all types of local ingredients. I have tried it with spices in India as well as in the UAE.”