Giant F&B trade show opens in Dubai
Dubai, February 22, 2014
Highlighting the importance of Dubai as a key trading hub for the global food industry, country leaders, government ministers and top level delegations are scheduled to attend this week’s 19th edition of Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food and hospitality industry trade show.
The show, which opens today (February 23) will run until February 27 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), will host a record 4,500 exhibitors from 120 countries and welcome 10 new country pavilions.
A key barometer for trade, trends and top-line market growth, Gulfood will introduce a number of innovative new features this year, including specialist B2B programmes, a dedicated halal food platform and a pioneering, high-ranking ministerial summit, said the organisers.
With more than 80,000 international trade visitors from over 150 countries expected to attend this year’s five day show, Gulfood remains an important enabler in servicing the region’s fast growing hospitality and tourism industries.
According to the latest visitor number results released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), 7.9 million people visited Dubai in the first nine months of 2013 - a 9.8 per cent increase year-on-year – driving increased occupancy levels in 84,000 hotel rooms across more than 610 accommodation properties.
In addition to project spending and services, trade and tourism are key growth drivers for the UAE economy in 2014. Beyond its position as the trade show with one of the highest volume trading platforms in the global food industry, Gulfood is a major contributor to Dubai’s growing reputation as a global events destination and a key pillar of Dubai’s 2020 tourism vision, which is set to double its annual visitors numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020.
About the show's importance on Dubai’s economy, Helal Al Marri, the CEO of DWTC said: "The value that Gulfood provides to the food and beverage industry is undisputed and the show is now recognised as a world-class investment platform and business facilitator on a truly global scale."
"This year’s show sees the launch of our dedicated halal food platform, Halal World Food, as well as the inaugural World Food Security Summit, where government ministries, top level officials and international industry leaders will come together to discuss challenges in securing the region’s future food supplies," stated Al Marri, who is also the director general of Dubia DTCM.
"This innovative new content will further harness Gulfood’s capacity to drive Dubai’s leading role in steering the global food agenda," he stated.
With heavy reliance on imports and limited availability of agricultural resources posing a challenge to the economy, the issue of food security remains critical region-wide. Gulfood conferences will address the latest trends, investment opportunities, growth drivers and challenges impacting various sectors of the global food industry through panel discussions, presentations, interactive workshops and case studies.
As part of its extended five-day format, Gulfood will host the inaugural World Food Security Summit - A Gulfood Leaders event, bringing together high-ranking ministers, industry thought leaders, government representatives and sector-specific visionaries to address the importance of securing a stable, cost-effective and safe supply of food for the world’s growing population.
Organised with the official support of the Ministry of Water and Environment, the Summit will be opened by Dr Rashid Ahmed Mohammed Bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Water & Environment, who will deliver a keynote address on the state of food security in the UAE and the Middle East.
More than 300 key stakeholders from across the international food industry value chain will address prevailing food security concerns, debate mechanisms to bridge the gap between supply and demand and explore strategies that encourage alliances and initiatives to tackle future challenges of the global food industry.
Peter Walsh, the Australian Minister for Agriculture and Food Security and Minister for Water for the State of Victoria, said: "The Middle East supports a rapidly growing population without the luxury of ample water and agricultural land, making food security for this region vital. The Middle East is also at the centre of the trading world, so the summit will offer access to decision makers and leaders in the food industry."
"This is an excellent opportunity to showcase Victoria as a world-leader in the supply of clean, green, and high-quality food and to learn more about the food security needs of the Middle East," he stated.
The Mena region is an important export market for the Victorian State, which last year exported $1.3 billion of food and beverage products to the region, including grains, meat, dairy product, almonds, and a mix of dried and fresh fruits.
While vegetables and dairy products dominate regional food production, GCC countries rely on imports to satisfy their meat and wheat requirements. In 2010, the GCC collectively imported 27.5 million tons of food, more than double the food that was produced locally.
In addition to significant investment in foreign farmland, countries in the region are increasing focus on developing the food manufacturing sector. The UAE continues to strengthen its position as a major logistical hub for an increasing number of food products and is playing a major role in establishing food security in the GCC region.
With the rise in regional income levels and the growth of tourism in the region, increased halal food consumption is a key driver of global food industry growth, said the organisers.
Halal World Food, a specialist show-within-a-show platform debuting at this year’s Gulfood, will welcome more than 450 of the world’s leading halal manufacturers, processors and distributors from over 50 countries and is expected to generate significant investment opportunities for major international businesses eyeing regional buyers, suppliers, logistics providers and storage and transport solutions.
Highlighting the importance of Gulfood as a trade gateway to the Middle East, Singapore’s Lester Lu, the regional director in Dubai for International Enterprise Singapore, said: "The UAE remains the top export market for Singaporean F&B companies, accounting for 46.5 per cent of Singapore’s exports to the GCC. Last year our companies generated US$20.1 million in food and beverage sales at the event."
"With the ratification of the GSFTA, the mutual recognition of Halal standards and enhanced price competitiveness of products, we expect continued growth of Singapore’s F&B exports in the region," he added.
With Peruvian exports to the GCC experiencing an unprecedented 300 per cent growth, Alvaro Silva Santisteban, the director of the Trade, Tourism and Investment Office of Peru, UAE said: “Gulfood has proven to be by far 'the exhibition' to further expand our trade into the region, and increase our presence as a sustainable food and beverage supplier.”
Gulfood 2014, which is part of the 23-day Dubai Food Festival, is strictly a trade-only event and is open to business and trade visitors from within the industry only.-TradeArabia News Service