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Gulfood Mfg’s third essay kicks off in Dubai; Co-located with SEAFEX
Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
The third edition of Gulfood Manufacturing, the Speciality Food Festival, SEAFEX andYummex Middle East commenced at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). They were inauguratedbyRashid Bin Ahmed Bin Fahad, United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) minister of state and a number of leading UAE business chiefs and VVIPs.

Gulfood Manufacturing attracted 1,600 exhibitors from 58 countries. The exhibition, which covered an area of 80,000sq m and whose floor space has been growing at 25 per cent year-on-year, spanned 13 halls this year (two more than in 2015).  

The show hosted 29 official national pavilions,representing production machinery leaders Austria, Germany, Italy, Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, and first-time national pavilions representing Indonesia, Ireland, Russia and South Africa.

“The phenomenal growth of Gulfood Manufacturing underlines the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, to establish Dubai as a major international manufacturing hub,” said Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice-president, exhibitions and events management, DWTC.

“As a thriving food manufacturing capital and strategic reexport hub to the growing populations of the wider GCC region and beyond, Dubai has all the ingredients to lay sustainable foundations and create a long-term impact in the lucrative food manufacturing, packaging and processing spheres,” she added.

“Gulfood Manufacturing can serve as a strategic entry-point for global firms to meet, network and partner with local companies as part of their efforts to monetise opportunities in both established and emerging markets on the emirate’s doorstep,” LohMirmand said.

Gulfood Manufacturing 2016 was split into three specialist areas: Ingredients Middle East (featuring fine and functional ingredients and the latest bulk and commodity ingredients, innovations, tastes and flavours); ProPack Middle East (covering automation, processing equipment and packaging machinery to solve production challenges and increase volume, flexibility, efficiency, quality and cost control); and Logistics Solutions Middle East [a platform for firms involved in materials handling, transport and commercial vehicles, information technology (IT) and technology solutions, warehousing operators, facilitators and service providers].

DWTC also rolled out its most extensive HostedBuyer Programme, sponsored by Tetra Pak, at this year’s show. More than 2,000 of the region’s most prominent industrial buyersattended the event.

“We’re very much looking forward to meeting with potential customers at Gulfood Manufacturing, as it’s a great opportunity to showcase our innovations and share new ideas and solutions to help with their business growth. Gulfood Manufacturing is the Olympics of the food manufacturing industry. It’s where the who’s who in the industry meets,” said Khaled Ismail, group regional vice-president, communications, Tetra Pak.

Alongside Gulfood Manufacturing 2016, DWTCalso staged its annual trio of conveniently-segmented food events: The Speciality Food Festival (which caters to producers, suppliers, importers and exporters of gourmet, halal and organic products); Seafex (the region’s biggest trade fair and sourcing platform for the international seafood industry); and Yummex Middle East (the region’s leading international trade fair for the confectionery and snacks market).

Collectively, the three shows reported 10 per cent year-on-year growth, with more than 700 local, regional and international food suppliers from over 60 countries showcasing thousands of specialist food products in front of an anticipated audience of 16,000 international buyers.

The shows boasted of a raft of new features, headlined by The Global Date Market sponsored by the Saudi Export Development Authority (SEDA) – a specialist sourcing platform for date products that will unite the region’s leading date producers with top hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and other end sellers.

DWTCinked a landmark partnership with the Italian Trade Agency (ICE) – the official government organisation which promotes Italian companies internationally - that will see the best Italian food and drink producers participate at the events.

“The growth in each specialised food show reflects local, regional and global confidence in Dubai’s status as a major food industry hub,” said Khalid Al Fahim, director, business development, exhibitions and events management, DWTC.

“We are particularly excited about the Global Date Market, where over 200 date varieties from more than 50 global producers across the UAE, the wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Europe, Asia and America will be on display, as well as the anticipated presence of top-level sourcing delegations from major retail enterprises, such as Carrefour UAE, Jumeirah Group, Spinneys, Waitrose, Dubai Duty Free, Rotana Group, Emirates Flight Catering, Manuel Supermarket and Dubai Mall.”

The Speciality Food Festival featured 200-plus exhibitors from over 40 countries, including new country pavilions and a broad portfolio of international and local buyers, suppliers, producers, importers and exporters of gourmet, halal and organic products.

SEAFEX 2016featured more than 170 exhibitors from more than 20 countries. This year’s show is spread across 4,500sq m - up 12.5 per cent vis-a-vis last year - with new exhibitors from the United Kingdom, Norway, the United States, the UAE and Vietnam.

The tenth edition of Yummex Middle East, formerly known as Sweets &Snacks Middle East and held in partnership with Koelnmesse GmbH, hosted over 350 companies from 47 countries this year. Yummex Middle East spanned over 10,000sq m of space - 18 per cent up on last year.

Joining the four specialist food events was the new Future Food Live, Dubai’s first international conference on Applied Nutrition, which DWTC is running in partnership with the Dubai Municipality. Trade visitors focusing on the wellbeing segment will discover the full spectrum of organic, free-from, halal and other healthy food products and ingredients. Attendees included everyone from global food specialists and distributors to large-scale government-backed farms.

Global logistics hub

As international and regional food and beverage (F&B) logistics experts met at the Food Logistics Forum (a knowledge-sharing platform at Gulfood Manufacturing), Nadia Abdul Aziz, president, National Association of Freight and Logistics (NAFL), the Forum’s official logistics partner, stressed Dubai was well-positioned to strengthen its positon as a global logistics hub.

With more than 30 of the sector’s key decision-makers and influencers probing various strategies needed by the food and beverage sector to adapt to new economic realities, she stated, “Dubai’s strategic location and exceptional connectivity at the ports makes it ideal for food reexports.”

Abdul Aziz added that the country’s infrastructure and free zones presented an attractive opportunity for international and regional food logistics firms to set up food handling facilities.

The Food Logistics Forum is the region’s only specific logistics event for the food and beverage industry.


Hypermarket and supermarket chain Carrefour, operated and managed by Majid Al Futtaim,looked to expand its organic fruit, delicatessen and dairy product lines and work with local suppliers to boost organic capacity as UAE shoppers become more health-conscious.

Carrefour joined more than 700 international suppliers of finished foods at the Speciality Food Festival, SEAFEX and Yummex Middle East.

It used the show as a platform to source additional food lines for health-conscious customers. Miguel Povedano, executive regional director, Carrefour UAE, said. “Organic and health-conscious products as well as convenient food to go are the most significant food trends impacting the UAE and Carrefour UAE is working with UAE producers to further boost local organic processes.”

“As one of the region’s largest retailers, we understand it is important to keep a close eye on emerging trends and healthy, gluten-free and organic products are becoming increasingly popular,” he said.

“Our consumers have responded positively to our current selection of health-conscious foods, which includes Australian meat, organic fish, organic and gluten-free breads. Going forward, we would like to expand the availability of our organic fruit, dairy and delicatessen products,” Povedano said.

“Carrefour constantly monitors health and fitness trends across America and Europe and is in touch with influential doctors and nutritionists to understand more about popular products. We want to ensure that consumers are able to get all of their health food needs met under one roof, which is why we stock a wide range of health-conscious foods including organic, bio, free-from and vegan, as well as diet and fitness products,” he added.

“With global market intelligence Euromonitor International forecasting that the UAE’s food and beverage (F&B) sector will grow its annual revenues from AED 52.4 billion currently to AED 81.9 billion by 2020, changing consumer preferences are influencing growth within regional gourmet and specialised food sectors,” according to Andrew Pert, exhibitions director, Exhibitions & Events Management, DWTC.

“Whether it’s from the emergence of organic markets, the expansion of gourmet and delicatessen departments in the retail segment or the introduction of organic and specialised F&B outlets, the regional market is evolving,” he added.

“The extensive range of exhibitors we feature in our event holds new opportunities for local, regional and international suppliers. We are seeing a number of major food retailers sending top-level sourcing and procurement delegations to the events as they recognise the fresh business opportunities in partnering with local and regional producers,” Pert said.

“Carrefour will also look to build new relationships with regional and international suppliers,” said Povedano, adding, “In terms of sourcing, we always try to work directly with the source of production to deliver high-quality products to all our customers.”

“Our supplier management teams also have close relationships with suppliers and our quality and food safety checks ensure the quality of the products in our stores. We remain committed to working directly with the source of production to deliver high-quality products that appeal to our diversified customer base,” he added.

Regional date producers

The three firms are participating at this week’s inaugural Global Date Market at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), a feature within the niche Specialty Food Festival that is sponsored by the Saudi Export Development Authority (SEDA) – a governmental organisation focussed on developing diverse and globally competitive exports from the Kingdom.

SEDA has a 180sqm stand at The Global Date Market to highlight the Kingdom’s key date producers, two of which are Al Duhaya Dates and the Nadeed Alwashm Factory for Dates.

Established as recently as 2011, Nadeed Alwashm Factory for Dates produced 30,000 tonnes of date products in 2015 and is aiming to increase production by 10 per cent this year – largely through increased exports. The company already exports 15-20 tonnes per year to the United Kingdom, but is eager to expand its international sales network to Europe and North America.

“There is huge demand for premium date products across the GCC but we are looking further afield,” said Talal Taleb, marketing manager, Nadeed Alwashm Factory for Dates. “We have ambitious export targets and the Global Date Market provides a bridge to meet international buyers and leverage the UAE’s interconnectivity and re-export potential.”

Having been producing premium date products since the turn of the millennium and exporting since 2004, Saudi’s Al Duhayan Dates produces 1,700 tonnes of premium date products per annum.

Although 70 per cent of the company’s output is consumed domestically, Al Duhayan Dates has existing export agreements with regional retailers in the UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Turkey, as well international partners in the USA, Malaysia and New Zealand.

Saud Al Duhayan, chief executive officer, Al Duhayan Dates, revealed 70 per cent of the company’s annual exports leave its Shaqra City factory in time for purchase by international customers during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

“Ramadan remains our key overseas sales period but consumer attitudes are changing, dates are being added to daily meals all around the world and the fruit has gone global,” he added.

“The date fruit is the only fruit in the world that contains all essential dietary requirements. The fact it also has a long shelf life makes it a very strong export product. The UAE is our number one export market and the country’s advanced trade infrastructure affords new avenues to increase reexports to other key international sales markets,” Al Duhayan said.

Al Moosawi Dates - part of the Al Moosawi Group and Iraq’s largest producer of processed and packaged date products - is the only Iraqi date producer at The Global Date Market.

The family-run firm, which has been in existence since 1949 and has a rich history of augmenting its own farmed produce with purchasing unprocessed dates direct from Iraqi farmers, operates a fully-automated, state-of-the-art production facility in Basra that is capable of producing two tonnes of finished date products per day.

Despite processing more than 100 varieties of date on an annual basis, the company is focusing its Global Date Market presence on a few select export varieties - Bermi, Bream, Khistawi, Zehdi and Uwainat Ayoob.

“Although Iraq remains our primary sales market, exports currently account for 30 per cent of our production capacity,” saidEsam Younis, consultant, Al Moosawi Group.

“We already export dates direct from Basra to Canada, Sweden and the UAE, but we are aiming to leverage Jebel Ali as a reexport hub to target the Indian market next year. We have already had several companies visit us to explore exclusive distribution and retail partnerships,” he added.
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