The Weird and Won­der­ful

Gulfood serves up a ground­break­ing treat

EME Outlook - - Contents - Writer: Matthew Staff

Cel­e­brat­ing more than three decades of suc­cess since its in­cep­tion back in 1987, Gulfood reaf­firmed its po­si­tion as the world’s largest an­nual food and hos­pi­tal­ity event be­tween 18-22 Fe­bru­ary, 2018, wel­com­ing more than 90,000 trade vis­i­tors from as many as 150 coun­tries through its doors over the course of the five days.

Mark­ing a new era, its rev­o­lu­tion­ary change in lay­out, for­mat and ex­pe­ri­ence fo­cused on as­pects of ac­ces­si­bil­ity and trad­ing po­ten­tial as well as the core range of foods & bev­er­ages that make up the globe’s pri­mary com­mod­ity trad­ing sec­tors: bev­er­ages, dairy, fats and oils, health, well­ness and free-form, pulses, grains and ce­re­als, meat and poul­try, power brands and world food.

Tak­ing place at the Dubai World Trade Cen­tre in the UAE, more than 5,000 par­tic­i­pat­ing com­pa­nies shared their ex­per­tise and in­dus­try thoughts cross 120 na­tional pavil­ions, thus for­mu­lat­ing the com­plete who’s who of rel­e­vant re­gional and global sec­tor pro­tag­o­nists.

Over the course of the five days, the event show­cased its now tra­di­tional and awaited func­tions, as well as a host of newly in­tro­duced fo­rums, to ul­ti­mately en­sure the best edi­tion of the expo to date.

Day one - wel­come!

His High­ness Sheikh Ham­dan bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, opened Gulfood 2018, the 23rd edi­tion of the world’s largest an­nual food and bev­er­age trade show at Dubai World Trade Cen­tre (DWTC).

Spread across one mil­lion square feet of ex­hi­bi­tion space, Gulfood’s sta­tus as the world’s first ma­jor food and bev­er­age trade event of the year was re­spected as more than 90,000 food in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als and 120 ex­hibit­ing county pavil­ions took cen­tre stage; con­se­quently wel­com­ing in­ter­na­tional heads of state, min­is­ters, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and na­tional trade as­so­ci­a­tions.

The Gulfood Awards also took place on the evening of this first, much- an­tic­i­pated day.

“The F&B in­dus­try in the UAE and wider re­gion is thriv­ing, which pro­vides a di­verse range of busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies alike,” said Trixie Lohmir­mand, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent, Ex­hi­bi­tions & Events, DWTC. “Gulfood con­tin­ues to serve as the in­dus­try bench­mark and is the ideal plat­form for in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als look­ing to network and explore new busi­ness av­enues.”

Day two - Vive le France!

His Ex­cel­lency Lu­dovic Pouille, the French Am­bas­sador to the UAE, stole the show on a day which fo­cused on the no­tion of in­no­va­tion, as he praised Gulfood as a “strate­gic gate­way” for French food and bev­er­age pro­duc­ers ex­plor­ing in­creased ex­port po­ten­tial across the rapidly emerg­ing con­sumer mar­kets of the Mid­dle East, Africa and Asia.

“This is my first Gulfood and I am very im­pressed with the show,” said Am­bas­sador Pouille. “Gulfood is not only a UAE event, it is a world­wide event. We’re ex­pect­ing al­most 100,000 vis­i­tors from ev­ery cor­ner of the globe with a fo­cus on guests from the Mid­dle East, In­dia and Africa - hope­fully most of these vis­i­tors pass through the four French pavil­ions. It’s very im­por­tant for our com­pa­nies to dis­cover new mar­kets and Gulfood is the place to achieve this. I am sure Gulfood will be a great suc­cess for us - we have 70-plus com­pa­nies this year; next year we want to see more than 100.”

He con­tin­ued: “The cur­rent to­tal of French ex­ports to the Mid­dle East can only in­crease be­cause when you speak about food, you speak about France. We al­ready have es­tab­lished ex­port mar­kets in Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE but there are huge op­por­tu­ni­ties in other coun­tries, specif­i­cally Egypt, the largest coun­try in the re­gion in terms of pop­u­la­tion, as well as Pak­istan and In­dia. These are all big growth mar­kets and we look for­ward to in­creas­ing our ex­port pres­ence in each of them.

“Gulfood is a key ve­hi­cle to boost­ing our ex­port tar­gets in 2018; the show is a strate­gic gate­way into new mar­kets and in­creas­ing our trade lev­els across a ge­o­graph­i­cally di­verse spread of na­tions where we see grow­ing con­sumer spend­ing power.”

‘His Ex­cel­lency Lu­dovic Pouille, the French Am­bas­sador to the UAE, stole the show on a day which fo­cused on the no­tion of in­no­va­tion’

Day three - In­no­va­tion tops the menu

The word on everyone’s lips re­mained ‘in­no­va­tion’ in the af­ter­math of day one’s awards and virtue of the Dis­cover Zone’s grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity.

And with cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies and prod­uct evo­lu­tions top­ping the menu at this year’s Gulfood, two of the UAE’S lead­ing food pro­duc­ers claimed three no­table ac­co­lades at the Gulfood In­no­va­tion Awards.

On day one, the UAE’S Global Food In­dus­tries more than held its own against an in­ter­na­tional field of food in­no­va­tors to claim gongs for Best Ha­lal Food In­no­va­tion and Best Meat & Poul­try In­no­va­tion, while Hunter Foods Ltd. FZCO took home the award for Best Or­ganic In­no­va­tion. The two firms’ trio of gongs en­sured the UAE’S top rank­ing on the night, notch­ing more cat­e­gory wins than any other coun­try.

This re­gional suc­cess was still re­ver­ber­at­ing around the expo two days later as lo­cal pride and in­ter­na­tional in­no­va­tion con­tin­ued to spark in­trigue among the thou­sands in at­ten­dance.

Mark Napier, Gulfood show di­rec­tor, stated: “The UAE com­pa­nies’ wins re­flect the ma­tur­ing food pro­duc­tion land­scape both do­mes­ti­cally and across the wider re­gion. It’s no se­cret that Arab Gulf states are work­ing ex­tremely hard to re­duce their over-re­liance on food im­ports and these wins show that when the right in­gre­di­ents are in place, home­grown com­pa­nies can more than com­pete on the in­ter­na­tional arena.”

Day four - Weird and won­der­ful

As the cur­tain read­ied it­self to de­scend on the 23rd edi­tion of Gulfood, in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als from all over the world em­barked on a fran­tic penul­ti­mate day of prod­uct sourc­ing, net­work­ing and busi­ness gen­er­a­tion meet­ings across 120,000 square me­tres - or 17 foot­ball pitches - of ex­hi­bi­tion space.

And while more than 5,000 ex­hibit­ing com­pa­nies’ prod­ucts at this year’s Gulfood were con­ve­niently split into eight sec­tors ded­i­cated to core food stuffs and com­modi­ties, trawl­ing the ex­pan­sive halls and tem­po­rary struc­tures to mine the lat­est in­no­va­tive and on-trend health snacks, juices, meats, dairy goods, rice, grains and much, much more re­quired care­ful plan­ning.

Gulfood nat­u­rally obliged in list­ing the 10 weird­est and most won­der­ful pavil­ions to at­tend: In­dige­nously Rice; Lol­ly­pop Tree; Spread­ing Good; Brewer’s Best; Hy­dra­tion to Lift Your Spir­its; Meat­ing Ex­pec­ta­tions; Guilt- free Ice Cream; Spicy Ice; A Root to Re­mem­ber; and Pro Colom­bia.

Day five - Roar­ing in­ter­est

As the Ibrik Cham­pi­onship win­ners from the past five days were an­nounced, the fall­out and re­views from the event were al­ready be­ing ex­pressed, and one im­me­di­ate ben­e­fi­ciary came im­me­di­ately to light in the form of Saudi Ara­bia.

As the coun­try presses ahead with multi-in­dus­try eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, a key pil­lar of its Na­tional Vi­sion 2030, the head of the Saudi Ex­ports Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (Saudi Ex­ports) re­vealed an am­bi­tious tar­get of non-oil prod­ucts con­tribut­ing 50 per­cent of the coun­try’s ex­ports by 2030.

“Peo­ple are in­ter­ested and want to know about Saudi prod­ucts. There’s not even time for ‘Hello’, it’s just straight down to busi­ness”

With the King­dom con­tin­u­ing to gen­er­ate global head­lines for a se­ries of high pro­file so­cio-eco­nomic re­forms be­ing ush­ered in by its pro­gres­sive, for­ward-think­ing Gov­ern­ment, the Gulf re­gion’s largest econ­omy is spear­head­ing a plethora of in­dus­trial drives to de­crease a long­stand­ing over-re­liance on oil rev­enues and Gulfood emerged as a cru­cial en­abler in in­creas­ing food trade ex­ports,

“This year we have about 50 com­pa­nies at the Saudi na­tional pavil­ion and an­other 65 out­side in other sec­tors. That’s more than 100 com­pa­nies, ex­hibit­ing more than 200 prod­ucts. Peo­ple are in­ter­ested and want to know about Saudi prod­ucts. There’s not even time for ‘Hello’, it’s just straight down to busi­ness,” en­thused Faisal A. Al­ham­mad, Man­ager, Ex­port Pro­mo­tion De­part­ment, Saudi Ex­ports. “Gulfood is very im­por­tant to us, and this is our fifth time with a Saudi pavil­ion. We have more than 100 com­pa­nies and I hope in the fu­ture we can have 100 more. This is a great plat­form for us to in­crease our ex­ports across the GCC, Mid­dle East, Africa and Europe. That in­cludes food and the whole range of in­dus­tries.”

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