Reported to be the biggest edition in the event’s 26-year history, Gulfood 2013 demonstrated its growing importance in the food and beverage industry, not only in the region but also in the world. We bring you the report.
As global trends continue to drive consumer demands across the food, beverage and hospitality sectors, having a meeting point where global players in the industry can come together to do business and stay abreast of the latest developments in the sector is of utmost importance. As an official communiqué from the Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZA) put it, the food and beverage (F&B) sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, reportedly valued at USD 7 trillion. In the GCC alone, food imports are expected to more than double in the next decade, increasing from USD 25.8 billion in 2010 to USD 53.1 billion in 2020.
Held from February 25 to 28, Gulfood 2013 was inaugurated by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance of the UAE. The opening ceremony was attended by H.E. Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister for Foreign Trade of the UAE. The event was attended by ministers, ambassadors, dignitaries and trade officials from around the world, and once again opened its doors to exhibitors and participants from over 4,200 companies from 110 countries.
Reported to be the biggest edition in the event’s 26-year history, staged on a record exhibition space of 113,398 m2, Gulfood 2013 was widely regarded as a testament to the importance of the event on a truly global scale. Commenting on this, Trixie Loh, Senior Vice President, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), organiser of Gulfood, said: “Gulfood’s importance on a truly global scale cannot be disputed. Not only has the show enjoyed substantial growth year-on-year without exception, and attracted participation from countries around the world but the show also now commands a place on the calendars of heads of state, government ministers and official delegations looking to strengthen relations at the highest level.”
Sharing his insights on the importance of the event in the context of the Middle East, Mohammed Suwailem, Senior Director for Sales, DAFZA, commented: “With a record of 4,200 exhibitors, we find that Gulfood and F&B-focused events provide increasingly beneficial opportunities for us to showcase our facilities to companies who are looking to invest in their business in the Middle East and want the support and expertise to do so.”
In an official release, Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, and CEO of DWTC, expressed his delight over the presence of government ministers and top-level delegations from around the world, and said that this fact demonstrated the event’s consistent growth over the last 26 years, to become a significant driver of F&B trade for global markets. Almarri added that the continuous participation of large and small F&B companies alike drove home the fact that Gulfood delivered business contracts and facilitated trade opportunities for both regional and international businesses.
More than being a trading and networking platform, Gulfood has evolved into an opportunity for education and learning for participants. “With Gulfood being an important trading platform for F&B professionals from around the world, it is important for us to ensure that the show is a source of education and learning for visitors,” said Loh in a news release.
Claiming to bring together more than 50 international experts, food specialists and business leaders from all sectors of the F&B industry, the Gulfood 2013 Conferences incorporated four key summits – the Global Food Leaders’ Summit; Food Packaging and Processing Forum; Food Inspection Conference; and the Franchising Workshop.
Speaking about this, Loh said in the afore-mentioned news release that the Gulfood 2013 Conferences would address the latest trends, critical issues and opportunities impacting various sectors of the industry through panel discussions, presentations, interactive workshops and case studies. “The conference programme is a key feature of Gulfood, and every year, we try to enhance this by bringing the very best calibre of speakers to provide regional professionals with access to content that is shaping the global F&B landscape,” said Loh.
The Global Food Leaders’ Summit reportedly brought together senior executives from some of the world’s foremost food and drink companies. Key topics, the report added, included issues and commercial drivers that impact strategic decision-making; factors shaping the future of the food industry; the role of the private sector in food security, food consumption and sustainability; and the implications of being a large-scale business. Sheikha Lubna delivered the keynote address at the Summit.
The Food Processing and Packaging Forum, on the other hand, focused on topics such as balancing quality and quantity in food processing, the role of packaging specialists in tackling food waste, and cost management through strategic planning and sourcing.
The Food Franchising Workshop offered participants advice on franchise investing, the role of supply chains in a franchise business, and hidden elements of a franchise agreement. The workshop was facilitated by Kit Brinkley, Director of the World Franchising Association, the release revealed.
Another much anticipated event during Gulfood 2013 was the Gulfood Awards 2013. Held on February 25 at the Samaya Ballroom of the Ritz Carlton, the ceremony was said to have attracted a record number of entries in 24 categories, and was judged by an international panel of independent industry experts. Commenting on this year’s edition of the Awards, Loh said: “Both the level of interest and quality of submissions we have received for the awards have been exceptional. It is exciting to see regional players in the food and beverage industry raise the bar for excellence and innovation every year.” The complete list of winners is available at www.gulfood.com.
Other events held alongside Gulfood 2013 were the Emirates International Salon Culinaire (EISC) and the Baking and Pastry Guild Competition.