The UAE chapter of the International Cheese Guild (Guilde Internationale des Fromages) was formally established on 28 February, 2017 in Dubai with the objective of providing a platform to support the inter-related cheese communities in the country.
Edwina Salvatori, account director of Sopexa Middle East, was selected as a member of the Guild and explains why it is an important platform for the development of the UAE food scene.
Why is it important that a UAE chapter of the International Cheese Guild has been set up?
The UAE food scene is growing quickly and Dubai is emerging as an amazing foodie destination. To have the Guild locally represented shows that the market is maturing. We see more and more expats being genuinely excited about food and asking for more Western products – cheese being one of these. The International Cheese guild aims at federating the dairy sector at all levels, transmitting the knowledge of cheese makers, promoting cheese, as well as educating consumers. Its mission is to promote the nobility of dairy products as well as the know-how of the professionals in this sector.
How do you feel to have been selected as a member of the Guild?
Working in the food industry and being a foodie and cheese lover myself, I am very honored to have participated in the induction ceremony. As a member of the International Cheese Guild, I have the opportunity to share the joy and the art of cheese culture.
What work will the cheese guild do in the UAE? What will your contribution be?
Through my role at Sopexa I am striving to create connections between producers, importers, distributors, retailers and consumers. As an international marketing and communications agency specialising in food, drink and lifestyle, we orchestrate many communications and marketing campaigns for various food clients in the GCC and India. These include cheese educational and promotional campaigns targeted at consumers and F&B professionals, large scale general public events, PR and bloggers events and professional training, roundtables, and seminars. It is important for us to spread awareness about the variety, textures and qualities of the different kinds of cheese, highlighting the products at their best as well as the expertise of the amazingly talented cheese mongers and chefs we are working with.
How do you view the cheese market in the Middle East?
With the population growing and travelling overseas, we see that the food habits are quickly changing – people are more and more open to acquiring new tastes and are looking for more choice. This trend has a direct impact on the availability of products in the UAE and the rising demand for specialty cheese in particular. We are also seeing a great deal of interest from international food producers, represented by collective associations and food boards, to invest in promotional budgets in the GCC, so we are quite optimistic.
What’s your favourite cheese?
My favourite cheese is the Mont D’Or (PDO), a raw cow’s milk cheese that is very soft and creamy with a woody aroma, and is best served with a spoon. This cheese is unique because it is as delicious cold with a piece of bread as it is hot after 20 minutes in the oven. Highly seasonal, Mont D’Or can only be produced from August to March, which makes it our special treat during the winter in France. In Dubai you may find it at large Carrefour stores or at Galeries Lafayette.