UAE: Gulfood’s Feb 2015 edition to mark 20th anniversary

By Libin Chacko Kurian, Mumbai for

GulfoodThe 2015 edition of Gulfood, one of the largest annual food and hospitality trade shows in the world, is going to be significant as it will mark the 20th anniversary of the show.

Scheduled to be held from February 8-12, 2015, at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), the show is expected to play a pivotal role in connecting nations and suppliers, opening distribution channels for industry-related business, and highlighting Dubai’s strategic role as a key trading hub for the global food industry.

With the 2014 edition of the show breaking its own participation records and generating show-floor and year-round legacy sales numbering in billions of US dollars, Gulfood 2015, the biggest edition in the show’s history, is expected to attract more than 4,800 international companies from 120 countries and more than 85,000 visitors from over 170 countries. To accommodate the meteoric growth and thousands of participating brands, this year’s show will span 127,000m² of exhibition space, including a 23,000m², purpose-built temporary structure, the largest-of-its-type regionally.

Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice-president, exhibitions & events, DWTC, explained, “A landmark celebration such as the 20th anniversary of Gulfood is an opportunity to reflect on the show’s growth in both scale and stature over the past two decades, and to reiterate the role, Gulfood continues to play in brokering significant partnerships and business deals between companies, corporations and countries around the world.”

Indian participation
As part of market development, Indian companies and promoting agencies will be participating in the show. Indian exhibitors are instructed to show only finished and packaged food products according to the norms. The total area of the India Pavilion for the event is going to be approximately 752 sq m. APEDA is arranging stalls for the promotion of exports of agricultural and processed food products. Indian fresh fruits and vegetables, processed foods including pickles, chutneys, jams, ready-to-eat products, confectionery, livestock products including honey, dairy and meat and poultry products, and cereals and cereal products will be exhibited at the event.

Dubai, the hub of food business
According to organisers, the show is poised to play a key role in enhancing Dubai’s global position as an inclusive, transparent and compliant marketplace for the foodstuff commodities trade. The event is forecasted to accelerate the Emirate’s already brisk trade in commodities, in addition to finished food products.

Owing to its strategic location for major global markets, its developed logistics infrastructure and efficient customs service, as well as hosting the world’s largest annual food trade event, Dubai has become a well-connected, cost-effective global gateway for foodstuff commodities trade. This includes trade in commodities such as rice – the UAE is the world’s largest re-exporter of rice, importing rice from 32 countries and exporting it to more than 80 countries globally. It is also the world’s biggest re-exporter of tea, with many of the world’s largest producers and brands using Dubai as their base. The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) is expected to facilitate more than 7.5 m kg of tea re-exports by the end of 2014.

Due to significant shifts in consumption patterns, particularly in emerging regions such as the Middle-East, consumers are moving from carbohydrate-based foods to protein-rich diets, including meat and dairy. While traditional food habits still dominate, the growing Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) population – expected to exceed 50 million by 2020 – and rising affluence regional levels are leading to increased demand for premium protein-rich foods, particularly meat.

The continued growth in trade is also reflected in the demand for exhibition space at Gulfood 2015 and February’s show will span more than 127,000m² of exhibition space, including a 23,000m², purpose-built temporary structure – the largest-of-its-type regionally. The biggest European showcase ever and the largest South American participation to date have also been confirmed. In addition to strong national pavilion representation from countries around the world, Gulfood is also the preferred platform for niche companies looking for new opportunities to launch their products and expand their distribution networks into other markets.

Vishal Tikku, vice-president and area director, Mondelez International, said, “Gulfood is an important event for Mondelez International as it offers the chance to meet with international and regional players to discuss the importance of food supply amongst other topics. It is a vital event for the regional industry, and we look forward to participating in 2015. The World Food Security Summit was a phenomenal platform to highlight key challenges and opportunities within the F&B industry such as reducing food wastage and increasing productivity.”

Gulfood is also a major contributor to Dubai’s growing reputation as a global events destination and a key pillar of Dubai’s 2020 tourism vision, which aims to double the Emirate’s annual visitors numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020. According to a recent report by Euromonitor, the number of F&B outlets in the UAE is expected to double in the next four years, making food service and hospitality equipment a particularly pertinent sector at Gulfood 2015.

Special platform for food business
A unique trade and sourcing platform for finished food suppliers, bulk commodity wholesalers and exporters across the spectrum of fresh, frozen, dry and processed food and beverage products, Gulfood 2015 also facilitates substantial global transactions for foodstuff commodities such as meat, cereals, grains, rice, coffee and tea. Driven by a fast-growing population, burgeoning hospitality and tourism markets and its prominent position as a re-export hub, the UAE’s demand for food staples is increasing at a rate of 30 per cent every year, according to the ministry of economy. With imports accounting for between 80-90 per cent of GCC food consumption, Dubai is best placed to cater to increasing demand in regional food trading.

Mohammad Ali Balsharaf, CEO, Balsharaf Group, KSA, stated, “Gulfood is the leading industry event and brings together a diversity of exhibitors, visitors and products from around the world. The Balsharaf Group, a key regional player in foods manufacturing and distribution, is proud to be a long-time supporter of the show. We consider Gulfood event a valuable platform for us to meet and engage with our current and prospective buyers and suppliers. We always look forward to attending Gulfood – the interactive nature of the event serves as a prominent source of leads and inspiration.”

Gulfood 2015 will host an increasing number of international heads of state, ministers and government officials, as national trade associations ink lucrative bilateral trade agreements and debate food industry trends at industry-shaping conferences and summits scheduled during a series of Gulfood Conferences.

Pana Barbounis, Pana Chocolates (Australia), observed, “It was our dream to participate in a show such as Gulfood and our first experience has been amazing. We met a lot of like-minded people who understand our products and share the same vision we have about organic food. We had more than 200 enquiries from potential partners who would be very interested to distribute our products in the UAE and the wider region. We wanted to enter the Middle-East market and Gulfood was the perfect fit for our goal. We will definitely come back next year to further promote our brand.”

Salient features
With tens of thousands of participating brands showcasing innovative new products and hosting hundreds of global launches, the unbeatable prices and unrivalled trading opportunities at Gulfood will draw industry professionals and international buyers eager to source and secure first-to-market products in their domestic countries.

Barista Bonanza
A unique opportunity to experience a variety of brewing techniques performed by top baristas, the Barista Bonanza will feature world-class baristas brewing live on the show-floor and offering tastings of specialty coffees from all over the world. The event will be supported by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe.

The Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire
An undisputed drawcard at Gulfood for the regions’ top professional chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers every year is the annual Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire – a showcase of the region’s best culinary talent and expertise. Held in Zabeel Pavilion, the 2015 Salon Culinaire will see more than 1,300 professional chefs evaluated by a panel of 25 renowned experts, mandated by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) to judge culinary events across the globe.

TK Khaleel, MD, Bakemart (UAE), stated,  “We have been exhibiting at Gulfood for the past six years. The online registration has helped a lot in determining who is going to be at Gulfood. Gulfood enables us to stay updated with everything new in the market and helps us promote our business model. This year we presented a new range of innovative products as well as our new brand identity which we introduced last year. We received many business inquiries from many countries and companies, many of which are valuable for us. We will come back next year.’’

Gulfood 20th Anniversary & Awards Night
Thousands of food and beverage products and services are introduced every year at Gulfood and the Gulfood Awards – in its sixth edition this year – presents an opportunity for best-in-class excellence to be recognised and rewarded. The prestigious accolades celebrate both people and companies behind the region’s leadership and innovation in the food and drink industry. Judged by an international panel of independent industry experts, the awards will be divided in six categories and 10 different awards.

Taking place on February 10, 2015, at the five-star Conrad Hotel in Dubai, the awards evening will also play host to a unique and memorable celebration of the show’s achievements over the past 20 editions. Over 1,000 leading industry decision-makers, celebrity chefs, key exhibitors, customers, media and national groups are expected to attend the anniversary event.

Food Franchising Conference
The Franchising Conference offers an essential guide to food franchising, a fast-growing trend in the region, with many international brands entering the market. Industry veterans will be discussing decision-making challenges as well as trends and opportunities when dealing with a franchise. An effective network of entrepreneurs, franchisors, franchisees and investors will gather at Gulfood 2015 to exchange experiences, share business secrets and discuss potential alliances.

The Food Franchising Conference will feature sessions focussing on ‘Making the Most of the Middle East,’ ‘Roadmap to Creating a Successful Franchise,’ ‘Regulating Franchising Processes in the UAE,’ ‘Franchise Failure – How to Avoid Them,’ and ‘Optimising Market Tools to Grow Your Franchise.’

Abdulaziz S Al-Owain, executive consultant, Nadec, stated, “Gulfood is an important exhibition for Nadec as it gives the company the exposure it needs to the international market. We have been participating for the past six years and have consistently increased our revenues and sales. Gulfood gives us easy access to central Africa and Asia markets and helps us expand our reach to even more than the 16 countries we are covering today. We had tentative deals at the show and looking forward to them materialising in the coming months. We are definitely coming back next year.”

Gulfood 2015 Summits and Conferences – Gulfood leaders events
Beyond its position as one of the highest volume trading platforms of any international food industry trade show, Gulfood remains a centre of knowledge exchange for many food-related sectors. At the highest level, Gulfood 2015 will host the Food Security Summit and Halal Investment Conference where ministers, government officials, policy-makers, thought leaders and regional and international corporate visionaries will address key topics relevant to the food industry.

The Food Security Summit will feature sessions focussing on ‘Food Security Outlook in the GCC,’ ‘Food Security Policy Development,’ ‘Commodity Prices and Drivers,’ ‘Food Security and Climate Change,’ ‘Investment in Agricultural Land Abroad,’ ‘Domestic Agriculture,’ ‘Food Supply Chain Challenges,’ and ‘Food Security and Water Management.’

The Halal Investment Conference will feature session focussing on ‘Halal Industry Outlook in the GCC,’ ‘Halal Product Certification,’ ‘Trade of Halal Products,’ ‘Halal Supply Chain,’ and ‘Marketing Halal Products,’ amongst others.

Halal Focus
Dubai’s position as a primary global trading hub for the international Halal food industry – a strategic enabler in the Emirate’s long-term vision to become the global Islamic economy capital – will see hundreds of the world’s leading Halal manufacturers, processors and distributors from over 50 countries convene at the second inaugural Halal World Food presented by Gulfood.

With exhibitors from six continents displaying thousands of Halal products – from energy drinks, vegan and vegetarian foods to meat and poultry, canned goods, gourmet and fine foods – Halal World Food has ensured Gulfood boasts a leading position as a key Halal food sourcing trade show.

Ihsan Ul Rahaman, assistant merchandising manager, Al Rawabi, stated, “Al Rawabi exhibits at Gulfood every year, and we do so to expand and grow our business. This year, out of every six visitors, four were serious about making business deals with us. So far we have closed 10 deals with distributors from the UAE and Asia, and we have many other potential business opportunities. We are coming back next year.”