UAE: International food buyers and sellers meet in Dubai, with focus on Halal

By Ed Clowes – Gulf Times

Gulfood, expected to attract 97,000 attendees, opens today in Dubai

Dubai: The world’s largest annual food and hospitality exhibition, according to its organisers, returns to Dubai on Sunday, with exhibitors from across the globe assembling to sell their seeds, cereals, and sourdough to large corporate customers, such as hotel chains and airlines.

Running from February 18 until February 22, the event is taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre, with the 23rd edition of the show featuring over 5,000 local, regional and international exhibitors hawking their wares, and 97,000 attendees bearing witness to the food industry’s latest trends and technology.

Specialised segments of the show will focus on the Halal food industry, estimated in recent research to grow to a $10 trillion market by 2030, a chef competition, and dedicated areas for beverages, health and wellness foods, and fats and oils.

Gulfood launched in 1987 in Dubai, and has since established itself as a key player in the international food market. The competition will be fierce as participants look to sign large bi-lateral trade agreements and take advantage of a tourism sector set to grow to 1.5 billion people by 2020.

Designed to highlight eight of the biggest food commodity trading sectors, the event will also host specialised halls for: Dairy, free-from foods, pulses, grains and cereals, meat and poultry, power brands and world food.

The Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire, a cooking contest, is a staple of the event.

The annual competition, one of the world’s biggest, will showcase more than 1,000 chefs, judged by an expert panel mandated by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS).

Halal World Food is a show-within-a-show concept returning for its 5th edition at Gulfood 2018. This major global trading platform generates lucrative investment opportunities for international F&B businesses looking to capitalize on the burgeoning halal sector that is witnessing significant growth in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries across the world.

Trade delegations will visit from countries such as Pakistan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

Possessing a large Muslim population, the travelling delegation of 23 Philippine companies say they hope to take advantage of the growing Halal industry, connecting with large groups such as hotels and catering companies that can provide reach and network.

“We have carefully primed a roster of 23 top exporting companies in a grand showcase of the Philippines’ best product selections in the world’s biggest trade platform for food and ingredients,” the Manila Times quoted Philippine trade department official Lourdes Mediran as saying.

In its participation at Gulfood, the Department of Trade and Industry — Centre for International Trade Expositions and Missions (DTI-CITEM) says that it is looking to generate at least $110 million in export deals as the Philippines seeks to grow its 5 per cent share of the global halal market.

Similarly, Pakistan says that it will send 13 businesses in the agriculture industry, showing off halal meats, off-season vegetables, and kinnow mandarins, networking with international buyers and sellers during their time in Dubai.

The food and beverage sector in the Gulf is expected to continue to grow by 7.1 per cent annually, reaching $196 billion by 2021, according to MENA Research Partners, a regional research company.

The company says that the market is currently valued at around $130 billion.

As a percentage, Saudi Arabia alone accounts for more than half of that, followed by the UAE with 31 per cent.