CEO Khalid Al Darwish as Guest Speaker in ISBG’s Italian Food Awareness forum

Source: ISBG – Italian Saudi Business Group

Italian Food Awareness in KSA: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of Saudi Arabia’a Quality Food Market

“ISBG had the honor and pleasure of hosting a group of prestigious guest speakers at its Food Awareness forum, moderated by ISBG President Bashar Jabban. The forum built on the success of Italian Cuisine Week in November 2018, with author and presenter Dr. Roberto Liuzza introducing the data and outcome of the research underpinning the forum.

Italian food is globally recognized and appreciated, and related exports have been growing consistently, reaching 10 percent of Italy’s national GDP in 2018.

Italian food’s DNA is linked to tradition, culture and a vision of life – the Italian way of eating is a way of being.

The brand reputation of Italian food reflects the above, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. In absolute value, the gap among countries is still wide, and the reputation is not properly valorized. However, the overall trend is positive, and the brand appears to be on the right path.

In Saudi Arabia, Italy ranks 15th among countries from which food is imported. This shows there is significant room for improvement. The questions are: What are the difficulties? How do we overcome them? And, most importantly, what opportunities are available to entrepreneurs in the near future?

Restaurant owner Basma Kheriji, food manufacturer Isham El Farouki, hotelier Khaldoun Hayajneh and supermarket owner and CEO Khalid Al Darwish offered their unique view on the Kingdom’s needs and wants in relation to Italian food. The audience, mainly composed of key market players, actively contributed to the conversation about how to leverage the opportunities presented by Italian gastronomical quality and monetize the valuable “Italian Food” brand to benefit both business and social communities.

Some of the topics of common interest that emerged from the panel discussion were:

• Physical outlets (retail) with a variety
of products (i.e. wide range of Italian cheeses)
• Italian food corners (retail), including organic product lines
• Edutainment testing events: oil, vinegar, cheese, etc.
• Possible local production with Italian ingredients and know-how (i.e. buffalo mozzarella)
• Italian cooking lessons events
• Food digital platform concept
• Food import, storage and distribution logistics

The group concluded that, in light of government programs to stimulate SME growth in the country and the significant number of young Saudi entrepreneurs working or interested in the food sector, this is an industry worth nurturing. Dr. Jabban confirmed the association’s intention to continue its work on foodrelated projects, and warmly thanked Dr. Liuzza for his efforts and commitment to the project.”