Dubai reigns as world’s gateway for food trade at Gulfood 2013

25 - 28 February 2013
25 – 28 February 2013
Dubai World Trade Centre

The importance of Dubai as a key trading hub for the global food industry is highlighted by the arrival of a number of country leaders, government ministers and top level delegations scheduled to attend Gulfood 2013, the world’s largest annual food trade show, opening on 25th February at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

An unprecedented number of government ministers from countries as far afield as Australia, Argentina, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Korea, Lithuania, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, the UK and the USA will be conducting key trade discussions during the opening days of Gulfood 2013.Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, will address senior delegations on the opening day of the Food Leaders’ Summit.Running from 25 – 28 February 2013, the exhibition this year hosts a record 4,200 exhibitors from 110 countries showcasing more than 50,000 brands across every sector of the F&B industry.Now in its 18th edition, Gulfood 2013 has increased in size by 13% from last year with the addition of the new Zabeel Pavilion – a purpose-built hall spanning 12,000m² – bringing the exhibition space to a record 113,398m².

The global food and beverage production industry is one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide, valued at Dhs20.6 trillion in 2013. With demand in the GCCexpected to rise significantly – fuelled by population growth, higher per capita income, and increasing tourism numbers – food imports to the region will increase by as much as 100% to Dhs194bn by 2020.

Speaking at the official Gulfood 2013 press conference today (Monday), H.E. Helal Saeed Almarri, CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) and Director General of Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said, “Dubai now plays a pivotal role in the global food industry from a number of perspectives, not least because the city hosts what has become the most important annual food trade event in the world.”

“While Gulfood has attracted more and more exhibitors every year from a growing number of countries, this year’s exhibition will welcome more government ministers and country delegations than ever before. This is a clear indication of the stature and importance of Gulfood in elevating Dubai’s position as the region’s leading gateway for trade between East and West.”

H.E. Hamad Buamim, Director General, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), stressed, “The importance of the food and beverage sector for the growth and development of the UAE‘s economy. With the value of food consumption in the UAE expected to have reached Dhs28.2bn in 2012, he said this was to forecast to increase to Dhs32.6bn in 2013.”

UAE food consumption has risen considerably in recent years and is projected to grow in line with rising populations and affluence. This presents a number of opportunities within the food sector. In particular, we see opportunities for partnerships with food producers in Africa, using Dubai as a manufacturing and distribution base serving the emirates, GCC and wider MENA region. Dubai Chamber is aiming to facilitate this growth through our strategy of opening a network of representative offices across Africa, the first of which is in Ethiopia,” H.E. Buamim added.

Facilitating trade both into and out of the region, Gulfood plays an important role in highlighting opportunities for food exports from the UAE. According to the Ministry of Foreign Trade (MOFT), the UAE‘s food manufacturing industries are achieving rapid growth and enjoying market success in many world countries.

Rashid Ahmed Al Teneiji, Director of Government Communications at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade, said, “The UAE‘s food exports, which totalled Dhs15.8bn in 2010 increased by 10% to reach Dhs17.5bn in 2011. Gulfood contributes significantly to this growth by not only providing promising business opportunities to the global food industry but also proving to be an excellent platform for UAE companies to do business abroad. The presence of a dedicated UAE pavilion for the first time at the show is an indication of the country’s development in the F&B industry as it moves up the value chain.”

With 110 countries participating at Gulfood representing food producers, manufacturers and suppliers from their respective countries, the show facilitates billions of dollars in trade for nations. For Australia, the Middle East and North Africa market represents one of the largest export destinations for goods and services, and is considered a priority trade market.

Australian Ambassador to the UAE and Qatar, H.E. Pablo Kang, elaborated, “Australia’s food exports into the MENA region are now greater than those to China and significantly higher than exports to Japan and other ASEAN nations. The UAE is Australia’s largest food export market in MENA valued at $642m, larger than the size of exports to India. In 2012, food exports to MENA totalled approximately $3.3bn and this continues to grow at a substantial rate every year.

“In 2013, Gulfood will place a critical role in facilitating trade opportunities for over 120 Australian food businesses and its importance is demonstrated by the Super Trade Mission led by Victorian Government Ministers who will be attending the show this year. These include the Honorable Louise Asher MP (Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business, Minister for Tourism and Major Events), the Honorable Peter Walsh MP (Minister for Agriculture and Food Security and Minister for Water) and the Honorable Dr. Denis Napthine MP (Minister for Ports and Minister for Major Projects).”

Regional Director of the Agricultural Trade Office of the U.S. Consulate, Jude Akhidenor said, “US exports of food and agriculture to the GCC have grown from $839m in 2000 to over $2.7bn in 2012. Not only does this reflect consumers’ preference for and confidence in US brands, it also shows that American producers have recognised the enormous export opportunities in the GCC, now one of the top 13 markets for our agricultural exports.”

Highlighting the value of the Middle East market to Argentina, H.E. Ruben Caro, Argentina’s Ambassador to the UAE, said, “The value of global food and beverage exports from Argentina increased by 13.5% from 2003 to 2011, reaching a total of $26.4bn in 2011. This growth has occurred largely due to Argentina targeting new business regions such as the Middle East. Of significant importance is the UAE, through which Argentina has been able to conduct business in other GCC countries.”

The food industry is France’s largest industry sector, contributing €148bn to the country’s economy, and representing 1.7% of its GDP. With a record 130 French exhibitors at Gulfood this year, this will be the largest French Pavilion at any food event worldwide.

The country’s Trade Commissioner Francois Sporrer outlined the increasing importance of the region: “France exports more than one third of total production so reaching markets such as the Middle East is clearly important. Trade shows such as Gulfood that are located in Dubai, the region’s import and re-export hub, have enabled French foods, ingredients and equipment exports to the region to enjoy robust and continued growth. French agrifood exports to the UAE alone increased by 31% in 2011 and totalled €215m.”

The increase in exhibition space this year has enabled participation from more companies in the ingredients, processing and packaging and finished foods sectors respectively. The show will also welcome exhibitors from new countries including Brunei, Ecuador, and Lithuania in addition to hosting the largest contingent of South American and European companies to date.

Home to Gulfood, Dubai plays a pivotal role in the growth of the regional food, beverage and hospitality industries, both as a key international trading hub and as one of the fastest growing tourist destinations. According to the Industrial Bank, the UAE is the third largest re-exporter in the world with more than 70% of its total agricultural imports re-exported annually.

Gulfood supports almost every element of the food, beverage and hospitality industry, from ingredients to finished foods and from food retail to hospitality services, enabling players in each sector to capitalise on business opportunities presented by the fast growing markets in the region. In addition, the exhibition hosts the highly regarded Gulfood Conference, and recognises industry excellence through the annual Gulfood Awards and the Emirates International Salon Culinaire competition, the latter of which attracted more than 1,500 chefs around the region.

Gulfood is strictly a trade-only event and is open to business and trade visitors from within the industry only. Gulfood is open 11am-7pm from February 25-27 and 11am -5pm on February 28. The online entry fee is Dhs125 and onsite entry fee is Dhs250.