Dubai – MENA Herald: Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) is participating in the Gulfood 2016 exhibition to showcase the infrastructure and incentives in the Free Zone for the food and beverage (F&B) industry as well as to meet international companies in the exhibition, looking at expanding their markets in the MENA region.

Speaking about the exhibition, HE Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO of DP World and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said, “F&B has been a special industry for Jafza with the best of the facilities for the sector here. Jafza is home to over 480 companies from around 61 countries in the F&B sector. While Jafza is attracting new players from this industry, that are aiming to expand into the regional markets, we also have existing companies increasing their production lines to suit the palate of the different nationalities present in the UAE. This inflow of products into the local market has given this sector the needed fillip.”

He added, “Dubai’s surging tourism and hospitality industry have also contributed to the upward graph of the F&B, along with the increased tourist inflow to the Emirate and the launch of new shopping centres and retail outlets.”

HE Bin Sulayem also emphasised on the factor of adding value to local products and supporting them gain foothold in the market competing against global counterparts; thus reinforcing the role and contribution of this sector in backing the economic development of Dubai. He highlighted Jafza’s promptness in providing unwavering support to the customers in their set-up and urged customers to use innovative technology to strengthen the sector in the UAE.

A number of multinationals such as Unilever, FSL, Alokozay, Mars, Gulf Seafood and others are based in Jafza and serve more than two billion people in the Middle East and South and East Asia, Africa and the Commonwealth of independent States.

Commenting of Jafza’s participation in the largest global event dedicated to the F&B industry, Ibrahim Mohamed Aljanahi, Deputy CEO and Chief Commercial Officer, said: Our participation in the Gulfood exhibition has become an annual tradition. We are keen to be in this key global event that is an ideal platform to present our products to exhibitors from around the world who are planning to expand to new markets, especially to countries in the region that import a majority of their products.”

Aljanahi added that Jafza aimed at looking at the new developments in the industry and getting to know the long-term plans of international companies looking to expand into the free zone and drawing them to set-up base in Jafza; thus helping the companies reach out to the region with cost-effective modes of logistics and increasing their profitability.

He affirmed that the F&B industry is one the leading sectors in Jafza and encouraged international companies to invest in the opportunities that the region offers and boost the presence of their products here. The sector is a catalyst in stimulating the supply chain with trade in machinery, food processing and packaging, logistics and retail.

According to Alpen Capital report, the food imports in the Middle East are expected to reach USD53.1 billion by 2020.

More than 40 companies from Jafza’s existing customers are participating in Gulfood to offer innovative products that cater to different tastes in front of a large crowd of visitors.

The Gulfood exhibition, this year, has more than 5,000 international companies participating from 120 countries and is consolidating its position as a global platform in the F&B industry. The exhibition is expected to receive close to 85,000 visitors from 170 countries.