Dubai: Gulfood 2019, the annual food and beverage trade exhibition, kicked off on Sunday at the Dubai World Trade Centre, bringing together trade missions and exhibitors from 198 countries.

The event, now in its 24th edition, runs till Thursday, and offers a platform for companies to tap into new market opportunities and discuss emerging trends while setting the agenda for the future of food.

Gulfood was inaugurated on Sunday by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance. He was joined by Helal Saeed Al Merri, Director General of Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) and Director General of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

The Gulfood Global Industry Outlook Report 2019, complied by Euromonitor International and released at the exhibition, forecasts sales of food and beverages in the Middle East and North Africa to rise to $171.2 billion (Dh629 billion) by 2023 from the $145.4 billion in 2018.

Running alongside the main exhibition will be the Gulfood Innovation Summit, which will bring together some of the key players in the industry to discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in the global food and beverage industry.