Abu Dhabi aims to become a key food logistics hub through Fresh Corridor 2.0 air corridor

February 9, 2024

A new initiative involving Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based airline, aims to make the United Arab Emirates a key hub for global food supply chains.

The project aims turn the UAE into an important source of fresh produce that can be distributed globally with full traceability.

Etihad Cargo and Abu Dhabi Airports signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Abu Dhabi Food Hub or Kezad, which is described as the largest food wholesale market and logistics hub in the region, to launch the scheme.

The MoU will result in the creation of the Fresh Corridor 2.0, which is described as an origin-to-destination air corridor for perishable foods.

In a statement, Suresh Vaidhyanathan, the chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Food Hub, shown on the right at the front in the main photograph, said that the aim was to create “an unparalleled ecosystem of sellers and buyers from around the world”.

“We are excited to support the global food players in accessing the regional consumer markets with integrated supply chain solutions and incorporating the most recent technologies and further be a key enabler in food trade diversification and the UAE’s food security agenda,” he said.

The aims of the initiative, the organisations involved said in their statement, included positioning the UAE as what they termed a “key node in global food supply chains”.

For this to happen, the country needs to make it easy to trade in food and to invest the sector, which requires good quality infrastructure and logistics to give access to consumer markets across the region and beyond.

Abu Dhabi aims to become a key food logistics hub through Fresh Corridor 2.0 air corridor

An Etihad aeroplane at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Photo credit: David Scholes

High standards of food safety and hygiene will be part of the project, with the various players involved also pooling their knowledge in areas such as storage with the aim of ensuring supply chains are “seamless”.

With its fast-growing population and challenging conditions for agriculture, the UAE has long been dependent on food imports.

However, in recent years it has invested heavily in food production, including in the growing of produce such as mushrooms and leafy vegetables in hydroponic conditions.

Dubai, another of the seven emirates that makes up the UAE, has long been established as one of the key trading locations in the Middle East, helped by its central location and unrivalled logistics capabilities.

The new initiative indicates that Abu Dhabi is, similarly, keen to strengthen its own position as a logistics hub.

Significant investments in airport capacity and in the aviation sector more widely mean that the emirate, which is the largest in the UAE, is well-placed to achieve this.

Abu Dhabi aims to become a key food logistics hub through Fresh Corridor 2.0 air corridor

Abu Dhabi has developed fast in recent years. Photo credit: David Scholes

Antonoaldo Neves, the chief executive officer of Etihad Airways, which was founded in 2003 and flies to more than 70 destinations, said that the company was “committed” to the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy 2051.

“Etihad Cargo customers will benefit from the expanded infrastructure as a strategic hub in the Middle East to the rest of the world,” Mr Neves, who is pictured in the centre at the front in the main photograph, said.

Abu Dhabi Airports’ managing director and interim CEO, Elena Sorlini, pictured on the left at the front in the main photograph, said that the efforts to promote trade into and out of the UAE would “further support the commercial development of the emirate as a global food centre”.

“We are delighted to be part of this MoU along with Etihad Cargo and Abu Dhabi Food Hub,” she added. “The launch of the Fresh Corridor 2.0 will encourage two-way food trade between the UAE and the rest of the world, bringing food products into the UAE, but also taking our ‘Made in the UAE’ products to the world in a bold step towards diversification and growth of imports and exports.”

As well as developing itself as a food and logistics hub, Abu Dhabi has made significant investments to become a cultural centre (through the opening of major museums), an education hub (with many universities and branch campuses having launched) and a tourist destination.

Main photo credit: Abu Dhabi Food Hub

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