The inaugural SIAL World Summit will address innovation as GCC consumer food imports from the US increased by 7% in 2014.
Industry professionals from the food, beverage and hospitality sectors will join leading industry exponents from across the region at SIAL Middle East 2015, on 7-9 December, with a line-up of four focused summits scheduled for the three-day event.
Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of ADFCA and with the strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, the summits will address key issues and global trends impacting the industry, along with expert insight from regional and international leaders who will share groundbreaking and innovative approaches, technologies, ingredients and business models across the entire food supply chain.
According to the Food Export Association of the Midwest, US exports of consumer food products, including cheese, table condiments, snack foods, butter, chocolate, French fries and ice cream, rose 7% in 2014 and totaled over US$1.8 billion. The UAE accounts for 40.5% of the region’s total US consumer food imports, making it the second largest market in the region, behind Saudi Arabia.
“The perceived high quality of US imported consumer food products and the brand recognition has resulted in an extremely receptive audience in the region. High per capita income and an increase in the number of tourists, registering high brand recognition, are further driving demand, ” said Ali Yousef Al Saad, chairman of the organising committee for SIAL 2015 and acting director of Communications and Community service Division at Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA).
He added: “SIAL 2015 will discuss strategy and approaches for local food suppliers to redress this trend.”
The event will open with the World Food Innovation Summit on Monday 7 December 2015. Over 500 delegates will participate in forums dedicated to underscoring solutions and innovations to the global challenges facing the food industry including waste reduction, hunger relief and sustainable technologies.
The hospitality sector will also have its own dedicated forum for discussion with the Hotels and Restaurants Summit taking place on day two of the event (8 December). The agenda will cover a wide range of topics including opportunities for homegrown UAE brands on the local and regional food scene with firsthand input from Scott Price and Nick Alvis of Taste Kitchen, and Tom Arnold and Sergio Lopez from Bull and Roo Hospitality and Investments.
“Once dominated by five-star hotels with imported brands from overseas, the UAE now has an emerging culture of local entrepreneurs with amazing and dynamic ideas to create homegrown concepts. Although still in their infancy, these brands are gaining traction on a global scale,” says the Bull and Roo Hospitality Investments duo, who run a number of successful community café’s in the UAE.
Other notable sessions include an international keynote delivery from Jens Bleiel, CEO Food for Health Ireland, University College Dublin, who will talk about the necessity of innovation in the food industry and insight into the future of sustainable food consumption and organic trends by Monique Marez, Associate Director, International Trade, Organic Trade Association (OTA).
According to Marez: “UAE is quickly becoming a key market for organic products. Organic exports from the United States to Abu Dhabi have increased by 346% from 2011 to 2014 and sales for first half 2015 have already surpassed total for 2014. Exports are expected to triple in the next few years with the strong growth fuelled by new implementation of domestic organic regulations.”
New this year will be five 30-minute sessions tackling critical issues in onboard hospitality will be addressed in the Mass and Airline Catering Summit.
“The region’s carriers no longer regard their onboard food offering as a basic travel necessity but are committed to creating inflight dining experiences across all classes of travel that stand head and shoulders above other international airlines; innovation and differentiation is key to securing customer loyalty,” added Al Saad.
Rounding out the three days of discussion, the focus will be on Food Retail and Import/Export with expert insight from Stuart Walton, co-owner of Creative Culinary Concepts Dubai and Love Food Dubai.
Major buyers chains will also get their turn in the spotlight with insider comment from Spinneys CEO, Johannes Holtzhausen, followed by a fascinating case study session on Galeries Lafayette Gourmet, and its successful food retail journey thus far.
The event will be supported by host sponsor, Abu Dhabi Chamber; headline sponsor, Al Dahra Agriculture; diamond sponsor, Jenaan Investments; platinum sponsor, Agthia; and retail partner, Lulu.