A growing regional market for high-end produce is prompting more global players to participate in Gulfood, as the numbers show. With a record 110 country pavilions, 4,200 exhibitors, 70,000 visitors expected from more than 160 countries, and a total of 113,398 square metres in exhibition space, Gulfood 2013 will be the biggest edition yet in the show’s history. The event begins today and runs until Thursday. It boasts a 13 per cent increase in size from last year and will be held at the 12,000-square-metre Zabeel Pavilion this year.
“The increased space has allowed us to welcome new exhibitors and provide our long-standing exhibitors with more space to showcase a wider range of products,” says Mark Napier, Exhibition Director, Gulfood 2013.
“We also have a number of new national pavilions including Lithuania, Ecuador and Oman. Particularly exciting for us is the new country pavilion for the UAE, a great demonstration of the country’s development in the food and beverage industry as it progresses up the value chain.”
The sheer size notwithstanding, the focus and major benefit of the show remains business.
“There is no question that Gulfood plays a pivotal role in facilitating substantial trade between suppliers and buyers from every corner of the globe, and providing immediate and exclusive access to the highly lucrative markets of the region,” says Napier. He believes that Gulfood is considered a key trading platform for the food and beverage (F&B) industry in the region, and says that the role that the F&B industry plays a vital role in the overall growth of the UAE economy. It also provides unrivalled opportunities to small companies and new brands to enter lucrative markets in the region, he adds.
“The most important customers in our business fields are all coming to Gulfood, making it the perfect place to network with existing customers and potential ones,” says Stephan R. Schaerrer, President, Integrated Packaging Systems (IPS).
“Also, the Mena is developing at a tremendous pace. At the consumer level, the number of people who can afford to buy interesting products with nice packaging is growing and this in turn pushes our customers to invest in new packaging solutions,” he adds.
Visitors can look forward to French chocolate brand Valrhona, which plans to launch Dulcey, the world’s first blond chocolate, at the show. “We expect it will tantalise gastronomic taste buds when presented by our ambassador master chefs and patissiers during the show,” says Zeyneb Larabi, Middle East Sales Manager, Valrhona.
Another highlight will be the Singapore pavilion, which will host more than 40 exhibitors out of which 30 will be launching new products.
The section’s total sales volume is expected to reach more than $20 million (about Dh73.46 million). It will showcase packaged goods that make cooking Asian cuisine at home easy.
“The cultural diversity of the UAE, coupled with its extensive trade links to the rest of the world, creates major growth opportunities for Singapore F&B companies,” says Lester Lu, Regional Director in Dubai for International Enterprise Singapore. “Asian cuisine is becoming more popular in the region and Singapore food, with its mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay flavours, plays to this trend.”
While talented chefs get their due at Emirates Salon Culinaire (see page 4), the event will also see the third Baking and Pastry Guild Competition that will showcase the skills of professional bakers and pastry chefs in the Middle East through live sessions.
The Gulfood Conferences has also been expanded to include franchising workshops in addition to specialised briefings covering topics from legal and finance to sourcing strategies (see page 3). The Gulfood Awards has grown this year to include three new awards, bringing the total to 23 categories. “Given the record size of Gulfood, it has never been more important for us to help save time, increase efficiency and add as much convenience as possible for both our exhibitors and our visitors. This year we are delighted to introduce time-saving additions to the show,” says Napier.
He talks about Gulfood Connexions, a programme run through the show’s website, Gulfood.com, which enables visitors to create personal profiles, schedule appointments at the show and manage their diaries. There is also the Gulfood Mobile App, a free app that guides visitors to their favourite brands, provides alerts, news and meeting reminders.