Visitors at Gufood 2021. Gulfood kicked off in Dubai on Sunday with a socially distanced function to reinvigorate the local F&B sector. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: After a year of restrictions on the global F&B industry, Gulfood kicked off in Dubai on Sunday with a socially distanced function to reinvigorate the local F&B sector.

The return of UAE’s leading food and beverage trade event has allowed global industry professionals to reconnect following the lack of face-to-face business opportunities in 2020. Running until February 25, across 20 exhibition halls at Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC), the global sourcing platform has welcomed participants from 85 countries, coming together to network and collaborate after a tumultuous year.

Gulfood's Innovation Summit

Running alongside the exhibition, the Gulfood Innovation Summit will deliver three days of powerful, thought-provoking conversations between influential chefs, food scientists, government officials and industry leaders. Topics of discussions include the growing Kosher sector in the UAE, TikTok, food waste, retail disruption, tourism and more.

With a diverse exhibitor line-up and plenty of established F&B heavyweights, the exhibition will be held against the backdrop of the UAE National Food Security Strategy. One that aims to get the country ranked among the top ten of the Global Food Security Index.

A major focus on coffee

Gulfood will also be hosting the UAE National Brewers Cup Championship, an annual contest to discover the champion of hand brewing filter coffee that promotes manual coffee brewing. Over two rounds, competitors will prepare and serve three individual beverages to a judging panel.

The competition’s rules and regulations are based on the World Coffee Events judging criteria. The Championship will take place from February 21 to 24 in Za’abeel Hall 6.

COVID-19 guidelines

With a 34-year history of catalysing trade deals and sparking industry innovation, Gulfood 2021 will run under stringent health and safety protocols.

With product sampling and food handling such a vital interaction at a global F&B event, those proven protocols have been further intensified for Gulfood 2021, under strict guidance and coordination with Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Dubai Municipality, to ensure safe business conditions.

Exhibitors are providing hand sanitiser to visitors before the food sampling commences in a designated area within the exhibition stand. Live cooking demonstrations are permitted however food was being served on individual plates and can only be consumed at the stand. All live cooking demonstrations observed a two-metre social distance.

Wearing a mask was mandatory. On-site registration was also not available. Registration must be completed in advance via the Gulfood website.