SEAFEX, the Middle East’s professional seafood show will this year highlight the increasing demand among seafood consumers in the MENA region for sustainable produce.
The event will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from 7-9 November, 2016.
Consumer-driven-demands are shaping the future of the MENA’s seafood market, according to Andrew Pert, show director, exhibitions & events management, DWTC, the SEAFEX organiser.
“The UN’s Food & Agriculture Organisation has identified consumer interest in sustainability as an emerging trend within the Middle East and this is reflected throughout the SEAFEX exhibitor profile. With organised information campaigns such as the WWF’s ‘Choose Wisely’ campaign in the UAE, lessons have been taken up by restauranteurs and retailers. In this instance, SEAFEX is a window to the future of an industry which has the consumer firmly at its core.”
The MENA seafood market is now valued at US $272 million according to a recent report by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Among the 145 plus exhibitors from more than 25 nations taking part in the show are sustainability leaders from Europe, the Levant and Mauritius.
Abbas Muntaser, marketing executive at European Seafood, which specialises in live seafood and live aquaculture raised fish said: “People right now are more driven towards fresh seafood than ever. This is not just because of its many beneficial effects on human health, but also as a source of sustainable food that can last for generations to come and provide for better lifestyles.”
In its first official SEAFEX appearance, Enterprise Mauritius (EM), the national trade promotion organisation of the Republic of Mauritius is looking to promote sustainability.
Seafood processing is now the second most important manufacturing sector in Mauritius, employing 12,000 people and contributing 1.5 per cent to overall gross domestic product.
Last year the country exported €337 million worth of seafood which represented 16% of its overall domestic exports, according to Arvind Radhakrishna, CEO, Enterprise Mauritius.
He commented: “As a specialised sub-sector of the seafood industry, sustainable aquaculture ranks high on the Mauritian government’s agenda and around 22 sites have been earmarked around the island for the setting-up of in-lagoon fish breeding. Farming of high-value and niche products such as cobia, sea cucumber, oyster and oyster pearls, crabs, sea-urchins and other shellfish is being encouraged.”
Three Mauritian producers – Prince Tuna (Mauritius), SAPMER Premium Seaproducts and Ferme Marine de Mahebourg – will share the pavilion, promoting preserved and frozen tuna, farmed fresh red drum and seabass, rock lobster and live fish exports.
Ferme Marine de Mahebourg will leverage SEAFEX to explore Middle East demand for fresh fish imports. Tommy P. Sawmy, sales manager said: “Internationally, demand is rising for fresh, sustainable; GMO free and farmed fish products fed without land based animal fat.
“Our farm is certified sustainable by Friend of the Sea and we have pursued further certifications and will soon achieve Global Gap and Halal certifications. Our fresh fish can be delivered to this region within 24 hours of harvest and our fish grow in pure waters free from environmental pollution in a warm, year tropical climate without stress. We are interested to gauge Middle East reaction to this proposition.”
Meanwhile, Siblou, headquartered in Lebanon, says consumers are not only more socially-conscious, they are increasingly health conscious – factors pushing up demand for seafood.
Camil Ishak, managing director, Siblou said: “Over the past year we are seeing that consumers are seeking healthy, clean, and a diversified diet; food with real ingredients. The modern consumers want food that is natural and convenient at the same time.
“Additionally, they want food that contains a healthy dose of nutritional fat – consumers are now aware that they need to know where their food is coming from, where it is sourced and produced, and the need to trust what they are consuming. All of this is contributing to a massive increase in seafood demand.”
SEAFEX 2016 will feature over 145 brands from more than 25 countries. This year’s show will span 4,500m2, up 12.5% on last year, with new exhibitors from the UK, Norway, the USA, UAE and Vietnam helping to grow year-on-year exhibitor figures by 11%.
SEAFEX is among a trio of food events which also include the gourmet Specialty Food Festival and Yummex Middle East, the region’s international trade fair for the confectionery and snacks market.
These events are co-located next to Gulfood Manufacturing, the Middle East’s biggest food manufacturing, processing, packaging, logistics and materials handling exhibition.
DWTC’s trio of niche food events are open from 10am-5pm from 7-9 November 2016 and are for trade and business professionals only.