Industrial Innovation Centre to unveil F&B business prospects

The Industrial Innovation Centre (IIC) will share its knowledge on high-potential product and processing opportunities in Oman’s Food & Beverage (F&B) industry identified by its team of sector innovation specialists and researchers at a one-day workshop on Tuesday, October 1.
Exploring domestic and export market prospects across the sector, the event will cover items ranging from ready meals and snacks to condiments and functional beverages such as flavoured waters and health drinks. Also on the agenda are trends in added value food products, emerging market segments in Oman and the wider GCC, the EU and Africa as well as presenting its findings on the latest industrial technical, technological and IP developments.
Announcing that the workshop would be followed by three intensive 20-day innovation training programmes to help the Sultanate’s entrepreneurs and start-ups capitalise on the exceptional F&B possibilities presented at the workshop, IIC’s CEO, Dr Abdullah al Mahruki (pictured) stated: “We decided to focus on F&B given its tremendous room for growth, this exciting sector is evidently rich in opportunities for entrepreneurially-minded individuals looking to develop innovative products, set up new business and for manufacturers who are keen to diversify their range of products, improve process and services as well as enhance efficiency and competitiveness in the global marketplace.”
Held at the Oman Conference & Exhibition Centre, the workshop and F&B training programmes are free of charge and open to innovators, entrepreneurs, F&B professionals and individuals interested in exploring the business and investment possibilities of this lucrative sector. The workshop will begin at 9am.
IIC Food & Beverages Innovation Consultant Dr Al Riyami explained: “By developing innovative products and applying innovation to processing, Oman’s F&B manufacturers can build their own businesses and also make a significant contribution to reducing the amount of food commodities currently imported. Importantly too, through the efforts of our innovators and entrepreneurs, this opportunity-filled sector can enhance our national food security and deliver unique products that appeal to international markets and in doing so become a major contributor to GDP and a proud pillar of the Sultanate’s diversifying economy.”
Noting that this year IIC has focused strongly on the F&B sector, the Consultant went on to give details of the upcoming F&B sector innovation training programmes explaining that in addition to assisting participants in the development of their business plans and feasibility studies, IIC will fund the professional development of up to 20 innovative new F&B products inspired by the workshop and taken forward during the training.
With a focus on plant-based food, the first of these programmes is scheduled to begin on October 6. The second will follow on November 10 and concentrate on food of animal origin. The third programme, which starts on December 8 will look at liquid food products such as honey, syrups, flavoured water and juices.
Designed and delivered by the IIC Capacity Building and Sector Innovation Teams in conjunction with international consultants from the IIC Industrial Innovation Ecosystem, each of the F&B innovation training programmes will be divided into three distinct phases — understanding, developing and commercialising innovation. Amongst the topics covered will be: innovation strategy, food safety and quality management, food manufacturing and technology, food packaging technology, prototyping and commercialisation.
Spending on food and drink in Oman is expected to be strong in the coming years with food sales expected to grow by an annual average of 6.5 per cent between 2019-2023 according to analysis carried out by Marketreserach.com who note that trends in preferences for healthy and premium products will continue to gain momentum as the disposable income of consumers rises. Across the GCC, the F&B sector is expected grow at 7.1 per cent annually, achieving $196 billion by 2021, from the current $130 billion according to studies carried out by MENA Research Partners.