News & Events

February, 2015

SOHAR Chief: Port and Freezone can reduce GCC food bill as dependence and populations grow

CEO Andre Toet has said that SOHAR Port and Freezone can become an important conduit through which food manufacturers can reach booming Middle East markets at a fraction of the current cost. His remarks were made as SOHAR prepares to exhibit the benefits of its unique position outside of the Strait of Hormuz at Gulfood 2015, and follows a deal with Sohar Flour Mills to construct a new flour mill at the Omani port.



“Growing populations and a 90 percent dependence on food imports is a perfect recipe for growth; the value of regional food markets will hit US$53 billion in 2020. This offers great returns for the industry, but it is also increasing the region’s food bill. Part of the challenge is operating costs in big cities, and our aim is to harness our location, connectivity, and rates to cut the cost of putting food on tables,” explained Mr Toet.



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“On top of not having to pay the additional costs of passing through the Strait of Hormuz, land and energy rates at SOHAR are very competitive when compared with other ports and distribution centres across the region. Oman’s Free Trade Agreements with the US and Singapore also offer potential costs savings that are not so readily available in some other parts of the region, especially its FTA with the US,” he continued.



According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food exports were expected to account for US$150 billion and supported 1 million jobs in 2014. Like the Middle East, Singapore is heavily dependent on food imports, and Mr Toet added that in addition to creating supply chains, revenue, and jobs serving regional markets, there is a very real possibility of creating a transhipment hub for food transiting between East and West.



“Our first ambition is to serve the GCC, but where the chance to align FTA agreements and food markets to present itself, we would certainly consider any proposal to expand our remit and services,” said Mr Toet.



Together with new road, air, and planned rail links, ground handling equipment at SOHAR is already able to accommodate food imports and the Port will soon be home to Oman’s first dedicated terminal for handling agricultural products. Work is set to begin on grain storage facilities, sugar refinery, flour mill, and two manufacturing plants that will produce millions of tonnes of environmentally-friendly packaging materials.



Established 25 years ago, Gulfood has developed a reputation among exporters for delivering spectacular returns on investment. For the exporter seeking new sales from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, Gulfood provides an unequalled sourcing platform, where international flavours find world-class business. It is the world’s biggest annual food and hospitality show, and in making its debut at the event, SOHAR will join the world’s biggest companies. Gulfood 2015 will be held at Dubai World Trade Centre on 8-12 February 2015.



Visit SOHAR at stand D-116 in the Zabeel Pavilion.