Abu Dhabi: The seventh edition of SIAL Middle East, a trade exhibition for the food industry, is expected to draw 22,000 visitors this year over its three-day run that starts on December 5.
The figure marks a 16 per cent increase from the 19,000 visitors that attended last year’s event. Organisers are also expecting to see growth in the value of deals this year, after the 2015 edition saw $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) in total deals.
At a press conference on Monday, organisers said over 900 exhibitors are expected to take part in SIAL Middle East this year, with more than 30 national pavilions.
Among the key themes at the event this year will be the availability of affordable and healthy food, as well as food innovation, and the latest industry trends. Health Authority – Abu Dhabi, which will be taking part in SIAL, said there are “huge challenges” in the food industry pertaining to the lack of supply of healthy food.
Food security in the GCC will also be a highlight given that the region relies on food imports amid increasing demand that is supported by a growing population and growth in tourism. The rise in demand presents a challenge to the Gulf region where water resources are limited, and reliance on imports is rising.
According to research from Economic Intelligent Unit, food imports in the GCC are expected to reach $53.1 billion in the next four years, while the World Bank expects the Middle East and North Africa’s food market to exceed $1 trillion by 2030.