Gulfood project manager Goli Vossough talks to Caterer Middle East about what to expect from this year's hotly-anticipated exhibition.
Looking back at Gulfood 2008, how successful was the event?
We were very pleased with the response to last year's exhibition. This was thanks to the highest number of trade visitors to the show - nearly 40,000 people attended.
In addition to the strong presence we experienced from the Middle East, there were also trade delegations from Canada, Egypt, France, Greenland, Iraq, Nigeria, Romania, Thailand, Vietnam, the UK and the USA.
The events will form the definitive trade platform and deliver a unique global offering.
What will be the highlights of Gulfood 2009?
This year there will be four exciting days of dedicated events, including the co-located Ingredients Middle East exhibition, Restaurant and Café Middle East, Emirates International Salon Culinaire, the renowned Dubai International Food and Safety Conference and a comprehensive programme for the beverage industry.
In bringing together the food and hospitality industry, including Restaurant and Café Middle East, with the more industrial components such as ingredients, packaging, processing and labelling, the events will form the definitive trade platform and deliver a unique global offering.
What improvements or changes have been made to this year's show?
Following the success of last year's exhibition, Gulfood 2009 is expanding to become the largest trade event of any kind ever held in the Middle East. The show will take place over 80,000 square metres, occupying the entire available space within Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC), and also taking place within the additional venue at Airport Expo Dubai, creating a mega-exhibition.
For the first year Gulfood will also be co-located with Ingredients Middle East, an exhibition which caters for suppliers of raw material and ingredients for food, beverages, and health food being held at Airport Expo Dubai.
The expansion of Gulfood will provide the space necessary to accommodate the hundreds of international companies who are currently on the waiting list; due to the additional venue at Airport Expo Dubai, Gulfood has been able to welcome various new country pavilions such as Afghanistan, China, Egypt, India, Korea, Pakistan and South Africa.
What is the interest level for this year's show?
We are sold out for this year despite increasing the total floor space. Gulfood 2009 will welcome over 3300 international companies keen to build up the region's reputation as an important trading hub.
With over 90% of food items in the GCC imported, new opportunities for producers and distributors are extensive and this growing market has attracted 80 government sponsored country pavilions, as well as representation from trade bodies and export associations.
What are the highlights of the food safety conference?
The fourth Dubai International Food Safety Conference, organised by Dubai Municipality and supported by the Ministry of Environment and Water in UAE, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), UAE University, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), will be a unique meeting that will provide numerous opportunities to exchange knowledge in different areas, between scientists as well as international policy and regulatory decision makers.
The three-day conference will be held from February 24-26 and will comprise of five plenary sessions on the main theme, ‘Food Safety in Light of Food Security', and eight symposia on different topics, as well as poster sessions and technical sessions. Three pre-conference workshops will complement the main conference, making this one of the most comprehensive meetings on food safety in the region.
What can we expect from the Salon Culinaire this year?
The Emirates Salon Culinaire 2009 - organised by the Emirates Culinary Guild, the UAE's association of professional chefs - is a four-day culinary extravaganza that includes seminars, competitions, and demonstrations for chefs.
Professional chefs from the UAE hospitality and food industry will compete against each other to highlight the service and food concepts currently prevalent within the region.
Special trophies will be awarded to individuals who have attained excellence at the competition in their particular field, such as gastronomy, bakery and artistic - plus a new award this year designed to encourage the development of Arabic cuisine.
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