Gulfood Manufacturing 2016
Rushika Bhatia
Industry Watch

Gulfood Manufacturing 2016

Gulfood Manufacturing 2016 was successful in connecting nations, suppliers and industry-related businesses – further strengthening Dubai’s position as a key player in the global food manufacturing landscape. Mark Napier, Exhibitions Director, DWTC, and Show Director, Gulfood Manufacturing, gives his post-event analysis

How has Gulfood Manufacturing developed over the years?
For its third edition in 2016, Gulfood Manufacturing registered year-on-year growth of 20 per cent in terms of exhibitors and exhibition space. By expanding the exhibition to over 80,000 square metres this year, we welcomed 1,600 exhibitors from 58 countries and 29 official national pavilions, including first-time pavilion participants Indonesia, Ireland, Russia and South Africa. The show was completely sold-out. Amid such strong demand from regional food production and processing companies for innovative ingredients, machinery, equipment and cold chain solutions, initial feedback from this years exhibitors and visitors suggests there is further room for growth in both – our core sectors and specialised niche areas. As such, we are already working on further expansion for Gulfood Manufacturing 2017.

Why is Gulfood Manufacturing so important for the region? How does it impact the manufacturing industry?
Gulfood Manufacturing provides a one-stop-shop to source the latest ingredients, processing machinery, packaging equipment and logistics, warehousing and cold chain solutions to enable faster, cheaper and cost-effective production of safer and more reliable products. Having this type of in-market access to global suppliers, technologies and automated solutions is hugely important for food producers operating in a region which currently produces only 30 per cent of its food requirements and imports the remaining 70 per cent. According to a MEED Insight Thought Leadership Report released at this year’s show, the GCC’s food import bill will double over the next few years to a value of US$ 53.1 billion, making it vital in terms of food security and economic diversification that the region establishes a broader, more sophisticated and sustainable food manufacturing base across the GCC food sector.
The UAE is leading this push and Gulfood Manufacturing 2016 fell just months after His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, launched the Dubai Industrial Strategy – a multi-faceted policy that aims to elevate Dubai into a global platform for knowledge-based, sustainable and innovation-focused businesses. The Dubai Industrial Strategy aims to help generate more than 27,000 jobs and an additional AED 160 billion in the emirate’s economy by 2030. Among the objectives in Phase One of the strategy are increasing total output and value-addition of the manufacturing sector; enhancing the depth of knowledge and innovation; making Dubai the preferred manufacturing platform for global businesses; promoting environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient manufacturing systems; and making Dubai the centre for the global Islamic products market. In line with this, Gulfood Manufacturing’s mandate to capitalise on unprecedented market demand across the regions manufacturing, processing, packing and ingredients sectors aligns perfectly with the top 75 initiatives outlined in the Dubai Industrial Strategy.

What was new at this years edition?
In addition to new-to-show exhibitors, pavilions and visitors, this year’s Gulfood Manufacturing hosted a series of specialist conferences including the brand-new Food Logistics Forum, the region’s only food and beverage-specific logistics event. The Forum brought together the region’s leading production, foodservice, retail, logistics and transportation players for two days of intensive education sessions, as well as dedicated time to build new business relationships and explore best practices. We also added The Talks@Gulfood Manufacturing, a series of tailored industry panels where sector investors were able to gain industry-wide insights to make informed purchasing decisions across the Middle East and North Africa’s food and beverage (F&B) ecosystem. And although not specifically new, Gulfood Manufacturing 2016 rolled-out its largest Hosted Buyer Programme sponsored by Tetra Pak to date. The programme brought together more than 2,000 of the regions biggest and most important industrial buyers in what is now the global food industry’s largest Hosted Buyer Programme. The initiative provided tremendous opportunities for regional and international producers and buyers to network in a tailored trade platform.

Was there a theme surrounding this years event?
Although Gulfood Manufacturing wasn’t held under a central theme, the show was split into three specialised sectors: Ingredients Middle East featured fine and functional ingredients and the latest bulk and commodity ingredients, innovations, tastes and flavours; ProPack Middle East covered automation, processing equipment and packaging machinery to solve production challenges and increase volume, flexibility, efficiency, quality and cost control; Logistics Solutions Middle East was tailored for firms sourcing materials handling, transport and commercial vehicles, IT and technology solutions, warehousing operators, facilitators & service providers.

How do you remain the show of choice for exhibitors and visitors within this space?
As the region’s largest and most influential trade show for the food manufacturing sector, Gulfood Manufacturing is the perfect venue for visitors to source the latest industry innovations in business sectors ranging from meat, bakery, beverage and confectionery, to fats, oils, dairy and seafood. We are still collating final attendance at this year’s show but we will have easily surpassed our growth targets recording over 30,000 visitors for the 2016 edition.

What does this region need to do in order to become the global authority within F&B manufacturing and trade? What are the major challenges that we need to overcome?
With growing populations, over-dependency on food imports and minimal arable land, regional governments are fully aware of their food security challenges. This is one of the primary reasons that the Government’s Dubai Industrial Strategy is so important – it outlines a clear vision to improve sustainable food supplies via home-grown manufacturing capacity and Gulfood Manufacturing will support with an industry-wide platform required to drive change and promote sustainable food manufacturing across the UAE and wider GCC region.