25th Gulfood to Highlight F&B Innovation

Dubai: Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food and beverage the trade exhibition, and first major event of a transformative new decade for the industry, will mark its silver anniversary this year and by uniting food businesses from six continents to rethink their output in an age of major innovation and evolution across the global F&B sector.

Ahead of Gulfood 2020, which runs at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from February 16-20, the UAE’s strategic position and status as a global trade hub has been underlined by the latest Gulfood Global Industry Outlook, produced by the show’s knowledge partner Euromonitor International, which forecasts the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will experience ‘above’ world average compound annual growth across most F&B categories through to 2023.

The report, which is available to registered Gulfood 2020 attendees, reveals that during the next decade world-class trade and commerce infrastructure in the Emirates can facilitate Asia Pacific’s emergence as the world’s biggest F&B consumer by 2030. The MENA region is also showing huge growth potential – both as a standalone market and as a trading corridor for business expansion inroads in Africa and Asia.

“MENA has emerged, with greater distribution of wealth and rapidly developing infrastructure, consumers have greater access to a wider range of foods and beverages,” states the report.

With MENA forecast to outstrip the average global growth in seven out of eight sectors, poultry and seafood offer the biggest potential as both are predicted to grow annually by 5.2 per cent according to the report. Beverages are forecast to record 3.6 per cent annual growth, dairy 2.9 per cent, pulses, grains and cereals 3.8 per cent, ingredients by 3.2 per cent and confectionery and snacks by 3.3 per cent. Only fats and oils fall short of the world average, but even this sector is forecast to record regional annual growth of 3.4 per cent.

“While the growth potential is there, the regional industry faces significant opportunities and challenges which now beset the global sector – it is why we believe a major rethink is required as we embark on a new decade of innovation and transformation,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions & Events, DWTC.

“As Gulfood 2020 brings this new era into focus, we anticipate the 25th edition will be a hotbed of innovation reflecting wider trends within an  industry where demographic shifts such as urbanisation, migration, and the rise of the middle class are reshaping consumer lifestyles and purchasing decisions.”

With the global food industry in the midst of transformation across the entire production chain, innovation will hallmark exhibitor promotions at Gulfood 2020. To ease business facilitation, the show is divided into eight categories: beverages; dairy; fats & oils; wellness free from; meat & poultry; power brands; pulses, grains and cereals; and world food, which will feature 120 national pavilions with niche and speciality products in 2020.

“Transformation is being felt across all Gulfood product sectors and industry players must rethink their approach to a segment in which natural ingredients, sugar reduction and free-from labels remain the F&B industry’s main priorities,” explained LohMirmand. Leveraging the trend for natural, healthy ingredients, New Zealand-based dairy ingredient solutions provider, NZMP – the global dairy ingredients and solutions business of Fonterra, believes Gulfood 2020 will provide crucial insight and shape the industry agenda for the early part of the 2020s.

“As we head into a new decade, it is essential that food and beverage companies gain insights into a fast-evolving market. As one of the biggest global food and beverage events globally, Gulfood allows us to connect with our customers and offers an important platform to showcase our innovative dairy ingredient solutions, while exploring opportunities across the Middle East and Africa.” said Simon Penfold, Sales Director NZMP and Anchor Food Professionals.

Creativity is also expected to shine at the two-day Gulfood Innovation Summit, which will run under the ‘Rethinking Food’ theme and has attracted some of the industry’s most inspiring change-makers.

“The Summit will bring together influential chefs, food scientists, government officials and industry leaders at the forefront of innovation to discuss and shape the future of food and gastronomy. The two-day agenda will delve into topics revolving around the role of the government in shaping the future of food, adapting to healthier, sustainable lifestyles, F&B Marketing, tourism and retail, future food technologies and new halal markets,” explained LohMirmand.

The Summit will also feature a country focus probing the evolving Saudi Arabian culinary scene, which is poised for further growth following December’s landmark decision to end gender segregation in F&B outlets across the Kingdom.

As Gulfood enters its 25th anniversary year, LohMirmand stressed the show can now trace its historic contribution in the ongoing evolution of a regional F&B scene, which has undergone seismic shifts in the market approach.

“We now see higher rates of local production and exporting in a region which, for many years, totally import reliant. Consumers are prioritising their health and that of the planet. Look out for more transparent labelling, increasing concentration on health & wellbeing, ethical ingredient sourcing, more environmentally friendly packaging,” added LohMirmand.

With the MENA region now developing as an export player and an increasingly demanding importer, Gulfood 2020 is expected to attract huge global attendance for the main show and its associated event programme. This includes the Halal World Food global trading platform,
which generates lucrative investment for businesses looking to capitalise on the burgeoning halal food sector.

“France has been a partner of Gulfood since its beginning. For this 2020 edition, 80 French exhibitors led by Business France will be present across nearly 1000 m2. That is why the French government and Business France has chosen Gulfood to launch Taste France, the banner brand promoting the French agriculture and food sectors, around four main values: gastronomy, passion, art of living, simplicity. Unified under this same banner, our companies will be stronger to win internationally.” said Christophe Lecourtier, Managing Director of Business France.

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