Dubai: Gulfood, the annual regional food and beverage exhibition, opens in Dubai on Sunday at the International Convention & Exhibition Centre.
The 19th edition of the weeklong show is expected to attract more than 80,000 visitors, said Mark Napier, Gulfood Show Director at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
Gulfood is pegged as one of the world’s largest hospitality trade industry events. This year there will be some 4,500 exhibitors from 120 countries. Last year, there were 4,200 exhibitors from 110 countries.
“We live in a part of the world where because of climate and limited agriculture resources, 90 per cent of our food is imported. Clearly that is a huge opportunity for exporting nations,” Napier said.
DWTC has built 44,000 square metres of extra space, including 16,000 of temporary spacing, over the last three years to maintain the exhibitions growth.
This year’s event will cover more than 1 million square feet of floor space.
The Victorian state government of Australia is leading a trade delegation to the exhibition.
“Our exports continue to grow in this market, particularly around food and beverages. The market here is very strong for us. We export a significant amount of dairy products and meat and a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables,” said John Butler, the Victorian Government Commissioner for the Middle East, Africa & Turkey.
Louise Asher, Victoria’s Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business and Minister for Tourism, accompanied by Peter Walsh, Minister for Agriculture, will lead 110 Victorian companies to the UAE.
“Companies [that joined last years delegation] reported that they expected to get in excess of A$212 million worth of business within 24 months of coming on this trade mission,” Butler said.
This year’s delegation is smaller than the 170 that came out in 2013; however, Butler said last year’s delegation included visitors to Abu Dhabi’s International Defence Exhibition and Conference.
World Food Security Summit
The World Food Security Summit (WFSS) will be held alongside Gulfood this year. The Summit, held at the Conrad Hotel, will feature politicians and business executives discussing the future of a sustainable global agriculture industry.
Vishal Tikku, Vice President and Area Director — Middle East at Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods) is one executive set to speak on the role of corporations in food security practices.
Tikku said that as a major food producer, Mondelez International is responsible for managing agriculture commodities in a sustainable way.
Mondelez International is the world’s largest chocolate and biscuit producer, Tikku said, adding that responsibilities went beyond managing wastage.
Tikku said that the next step is to get more companies involved in sustainability practices.
But said that “commercial organisations cannot do this by themselves, and need to work with governments and organisations like the WFSS”.
Gulfood runs from Sunday February 23 until Thursday February 27.
The World Food Security Summit runs from Sunday February 23 to Monday February 24