The silver anniversary edition of Gulfood will herald a new era of sector transformation and build on the Dubai event’s 25-year legacy as an on-point trend tracker and robust business facilitator, according to its exhibitor line-up ahead of the five-day show, which runs from February 16-20 at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
Leading food company JBS, the largest animal protein producer in the world, says Gulfood continues to be an important access platform in developing flourishing relations with partners and distributors, as well as serving as a springboard to introduce new products and food solutions into the MENA region.
“It’s a very relevant fair for JBS due to its ability to serve a strategic region for our business. Visitors to our stand can expect very interesting product launches in line with the latest industry trends and the changing needs of regional consumers,” says Marcos Delorenzo, director of Marketing & New Business at Seara MENA (Middle East and North Africa).
Saudi Arabia potential top of mind
Gulf-based food industry heavyweight Truebell, a leading importer, wholesaler, distributor and exporter with more than 60 brands in its portfolio, is leveraging Gulfood 2020 as part of a strategy to tap into an expanding food industry in Saudi Arabia. With the GCC’s largest country expected to benefit from approximately USD59 billion of investment by 2021, according to the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), Truebell plans to expand its exclusive distribution of key brands within the Kingdom.
“Trends have evolved in line with Saudi Arabia’s changing demographics, increased disposable incomes and maturing food preferences with demand for varied food stuff, organic ingredients and healthy food products expanding well beyond the most popular and recognisable local brands. As a result, Truebell is working to align current and future supplies with this developing trend,” says Bhushant J. Gandhi, Divisional Manager of Retail & Food Service, Truebell.
With growing consumer preferences for healthy food products, the total consumption of organic, gourmet and health products within Saudi Arabia topped USD27 billion in 2019, according to SAGIA.
“With 29 million residents – 50 per cent of which are under the age of 25 – Saudi Arabia has the largest population in the GCC and arguably the population most susceptible to Western consumer food trends,” explained Gandhi. “Saudi consumers are becoming more health conscious than ever and probiotics, whether in supplement format or in food and beverages, are becoming increasingly popular due to the health benefits linked to them.”
As more operators look to expand their footprint within the Kingdom, local Saudi producers are also looking to build their export potential. Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning food industry will be out in force at Gulfood 2020 with a national pavilion mounted by the Saudi Export Development Authority (SEDA).
Al Rabie Saudi Foods Co., one of Saudi Arabia’s largest beverage producers, is aiming to grow its regional market share by promoting its constant consumer-led initiative: healthy and tasty beverages in consumer-friendly, handy and environmental-friendly Tetra Pak packs that come in different sizes and formats for everyone.
“The focus on no-sugar-added beverages in our unique flavors is part of our continuous pursuit of innovation and product development with the aim of meeting consumer needs and the latest market developments,” Ghassan Majdali, Deputy Chief Commercial Officer – Marketing, Al Rabie Saudi Foods Co. “Gulfood has always been a launch platform which grabs the attention of the global industry so it’s ideal for the new roll-out.”
Afghan food producers return to the fore
And while the Gulfood 2020 looks to welcome back scores of its regular national pavilions – many of which have recorded substantial growth over the years – this year’s showcase will welcome Afghanistan back to the industry’s production arena. More than 25 Afghani agribusiness producers are exhibiting in a dedicated national pavilion promoting products including saffron, dried fruits, nuts, grains and wild harvested herbs, spices and medicinal crops including liquorice, cumin, basil, carraway and fennel seeds.
Andrew Philip, Technical Advisor for the Afghanistan Pavilion, revealed: “Our Gulfood 2020 pavilion will re-introduce Afghanistan to all markets and remind the industry that prior to decades of conflict, Afghani almonds, pomegranates, pistachios, raisins, and apricots were high-demand products across Central and South Asia.”
Philip added that the food sector post-2001 has seen high-value fruit and nut production rebound and Afghan Agribusinesses are now re-establishing markets in Dubai and all over the world.
“Afghanistan can showcase products that have been grown and sourced for generations and supplied to the region. Key sector openings are even more applicable now in the health food and organic food sectors,” adds Philip.
The re-emerging fortunes of Afghanistan’s food trade is one of a number of trends Gulfood is well-renowned for tracking and highlighting. For almost three decades the show has become a weathervane to the changing face of consumer tastes, emerging markets and sectors, new technology and innovative products and flavours. From its Dubai base, the show has tracked the fortunes of the F&B industry far and wide and helped shift regional countries from import- dependent to increasingly important export players.
“The industry, the market and the show have developed in tandem and growth has been dramatic,” explains Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President, Exhibitions & Events, DWTC. “The show’s demand consistently outstrips space availability. Yet DWTC is nothing if not innovative and we can assure visitors and exhibitors that we will continue to closely monitor the industry and respond to and reflect trends.”
‘Rethinking Food’ at the Gulfood Innovation Summit
For its silver edition, Gulfood’s knowledge forum will also tackle pressing issues and imminent industry opportunities under the show theme ‘Rethinking Food.’
“We’re engaging the industry’s leading experts to assess what needs to be done differently in the F&B industry across five core pillars: technological advancements, government and policy-making, marketing practices, lifestyle and markets including developing economies,” explains LohMirmand.
“For exhibitors, they would be hard-pressed to find a forum where they can increase their margins by connecting with competitive suppliers of cutting-edge product innovations, as well as household name brands. They will unearth business opportunities from leading companies and visitors, who are hungry to keep up with emerging trends and source new and innovative products.”