Sunday 21, February 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry, today formally opened Gulfood 2016 – the 21st edition of the world’s largest annual food and hospitality trade show – at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing and the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, Minister Alexander Tkachev of the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Agriculture and a host of ministers, ambassadors and dignitaries from the UAE, GCC and around the world.
Running until Thursday night (25 February), Gulfood is expected to draw a record trade attendance of more than 85,000 visitors from over 170 countries, including international heads of state, ministers, government officials and national trade associations from five continents.
The show features over 5,000 companies from 120 countries, 117 trade and industry pavilions and spans in excess of 1.29 million square feet of exhibition space including three new DWTC halls – Za’abeel 4, 5 and 6 – and two purpose-built, temporary structures.
“As a strategic investment platform, Gulfood connects the world’s leading food and hospitality industry companies and brands, national policy-makers and innovative thought-leaders,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, DWTC, organiser of Gulfood. “The show facilitates multi-million dollar transactions as the global food industry meets, networks, sources new products and trades out of Dubai – now one of the world’s most prominent international trading hubs. Gulfood is where the big deals are made, company to company and country to country.”
With GCC food imports currently worth $53.1 billion according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Gulfood’s global trading status has attracted the show’s biggest tally of national and food export industry groups which, at 117, is five more than last year. These pavilions include first-time representation from Russia, Costa Rica, Belarus, Mauritius and New Zealand returning after a six-year break.
This year’s expanded exhibitor line-up – participating via national and trade association pavilions or on dedicated company stands – includes finished food producers, bulk commodity wholesalers, distributors and exporters, as well as the show’s largest-ever collection of hospitality equipment suppliers.
Gulfood 2016 also features the Halal World Food show-within-a-show and the globe’s biggest, annual Halal food sourcing trade event. This year Halal World Food features over 800 Halal food suppliers – 15% up on last year – vying for trade in a sector predicted to be worth US$2.537 trillion by 2019 according to the latest Global Islamic Economy Report.
“For the retail, foodservice, catering and hospitality industries, Gulfood presents an incredible opportunity to source thousands of new products, innovations in health and special diet, and an even wider range of ethnic and speciality foods – we anticipate tremendous interest in Halal food products this year as Dubai advances its status as an Islamic economy hub,” added LohMirmand.
Taking place over the first three days of the show, Gulfood’s revamped conference programme opened with today’s F&B Business Forum at DWTC where experts discussed crucial issues shaping business performance within the region’s expanding F&B sector.
The opening day’s sessions ended with The Innovation Hub, sponsored by British Airways and Avios, where selected entrepreneurs pitched game-changing business ideas to an expert judging panel in a bid to walk away with start-up investment capital. The winning submission from five finalists – including a food safe disinfectant by CleanLAB, an EcoBurner from Innovate General Trading, a Culture Excellence Programme by TSI Quality Services, Space Food by the Canadian University Dubai, and increased sustainability in energy intensity, packaging methods and product quality by The Nest Box Egg Company Ltd – is to be unveiled at the Gulfood Awards evening on Sunday 21 February.
On Monday, February 22nd the conference programme moves to the five-star Conrad Dubai hotel for the Gulfood Halal Forum supported by the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre and dedicated sessions devoted to food science and manufacturing, before ending with sessions on global food security and public health in the food industry on February 23rd.
Gulfood will also host hundreds of show-floor culinary demonstrations at the annual Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire – a showcase of the region’s best culinary talent and expertise. One of Gulfood’s undisputed draws for the regions’ top professional chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers, this year’s Salon sees more than 1,300 professional chefs evaluated by a panel of 25 renowned experts, mandated by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) to judge culinary events across the globe.
As part of this year’s Salon Culinaire, three major USA trade bodies – the USA’s Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), the Meat Export Federation and the Dairy Export Council – have teamed up for a ‘Tastes of the USA’ culinary demonstration led by Louisiana-born Joe Truex, executive chef at Dubai Mall’s gourmet eatery Pi. Dubai. Today’s opening demo was attended by Alexis Taylor, the Deputy Undersecretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“The ‘Taste of the USA’ activity at Gulfood is a testament to the success of public-private partnerships between the USDA and U.S. agricultural trade associations such as the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the U.S. Meat Export Federation,” said Taylor. “Activities like this show that high quality U.S. agricultural exports are available to dine on around the world.”