Middle East food and beverage regulation updates

May 07, 2024

With the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) food and beverage market predicted to grow to $128 billion by 2029, commercial interest in the region is high. As companies look to expand their presence in GCC countries and the wider Middle East, regulatory insights can facilitate seamless and compliant progress. Here’s a snapshot of some of the recent developments we have been monitoring.

Middle East food and beverage regulatory updates | Leatherhead Food Research

Traffic light system for nutritional labelling downgraded

The UAE Cabinet has downgraded its nutritional labelling requirement (nutritional labelling of pre-packed products as traffic light colors) from mandatory to voluntary. Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) took a similar decision, postponing its update on front of pack nutritional labelling requirements and maintaining the voluntary status of the current version.

Out of home category: new requirements for calories and salt

SFDA recently published a regulation requiring out of home menu items to display the time required to burn the calories consumed. This must be clearly indicated in minutes and/or hours, along with a ‘walking’ icon and is due to be fully enforced from July 2025. Another new SFDA regulation which becomes mandatory at the same time requires out of home providers to indicate food that is high in salt (exceeding 5g) with a prominent saltshaker symbol.

Allergen labelling becomes more comprehensive

Due to the importance of this topic, an independent standard on allergen labelling has been published in Saudi Arabia. This cancels the related clause which used to be followed as general labelling standard. The same will be applied to the rest of GCC soon.

Bans on single-use plastic

From 1 January 2024, the import, production, or circulation of single-use plastic (SUP) shopping bags was prohibited in UAE; biodegradable plastic bags are also banned. From 1 January 2026, the import, production, or circulation of single use shopping bags of any material, and most other SUP products, will be prohibited.

The Middle East market is a dynamic space

Regulations impacting the food and beverage sector are inconsistent across the Middle East region, and many requirements are evolving. If you need help navigating this challenging and dynamic landscape, our multilingual regulatory services team has the necessary skills and insights. Find out more about our global regulatory services here.

This information is taken from a Leatherhead Food Research members’ whitepaper on the Middle East region. Our members receive detailed updates on topical regulatory matters throughout the year. If you’re interested in becoming a member, further information is available here.

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