Middle East companies see Gulfood as the ideal platform to find new imports from around the world.
Leading food companies from across the GCC have confirmed their presence at this year's Gulfood exhibition - the largest trade exhibition in the region for food, drink, foodservice and hospitality equipment - as they look to capitalise on the opportunities available from international suppliers.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) recently named the UAE and Saudi Arabia among the ‘top 30 importers and exporters' in the world, highlighting the importance of the GCC market.
The recent Free Trade Agreement with Singapore and the ongoing discussions with China, India, Pakistan, Japan, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand will increase the possibility of improved trade deals between the respective countries.
Global food brands see the Middle East as the ideal opening to increase business, with the vast majority of food stuffs imported to the region. More than 3,300 companies from 70 different countries will be looking at ways to improve business and gain a competitive advantage, as well as exploring the latest technology driving change through the industry.
With imports to the GCC region exceeding US $10 billlion, Gulfood will be the focal point of the food industry for the year. The exhibition is taking place at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) and the additional venue at Airport Expo Dubai from 23 - 26 February 2009.
"Due to the changing global economy and consumer buying behaviour Gulfood presents an opportunity for food companies to take advantage of the transforming industry," said Trixee Loh, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions and Events, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), organiser of Gulfood. "Dubai has always been a centre for international trade and commerce and Gulfood is playing a leading role in providing the links between suppliers and buyers from around the world."
Companies from within the UAE looking to do business at Gulfood include Al Ghurair Foods and Al Islami and from the wider GCC the likes of platinum sponsor Salehia and Sunbulah from Saudi Arabia, Juhayna and Seclam from Egypt will also be exhibiting.
"Gulfood has become the flagship food exhibition in the region. It provides Sunbulah Group the opportunity to open new markets, expand existing markets, reveal new and exciting products from our brands, and be in-sync with the developments of the industry," said Mr. Samer Ibrahim Y. Kurdi, Deputy General Manager, Sunbulah Group.
"I go to Gulfood every year to see the new innovations which are coming onto the market. It is a great place to get inspiration for the coming year and to keep the Ritz Carlton at the forefront of the hotel industry with the latest food and the equipment," said Holger Jackisch, Executive Chef, Ritz Carlton in Doha, Qatar. "Gulfood is also a very good place to keep in touch with my contacts in the industry."
"I have been to a number of exhibitions in Europe and Gulfood is on the same track. It is very big and has many quality products to help keep the Ritz Carlton innovative and at the top of the restaurant industry," he added.
"The Spinneys reputation is built on freshness, and we are committed to exceeding our customer's expectations by offering produce of the highest quality, consistently", said Mohammed Ali, Category Manager for Spinneys Fruit and Vegetables. "Gulfood is a great platform to meet with suppliers from all over the world. We visit Gulfood annually and have built strong relationships with exhibitors, many of whom still supply Spinneys today," he added.
To support increasing specialisation within the market, Gulfood has introduced dedicated halls within the show for specific products and services, ranging from processing, packaging and labeling, through to beverage and beverage equipment.
For the first year Ingredients Middle East will be co-located with Gulfood. Ingredients Middle East caters to suppliers of raw material and ingredients for food, beverages, and health food being held at Airport Expo Dubai.
Dubai International Food Safety Conference, organised by Dubai Municipality, will return to examine the challenges facing the market including the consequences of food-borne illness, and new regulatory standards which have been introduced for previously unknown or unregulated hazards.
Renowned speakers from around the world attending this year's conference include Prof. Chris Griffith, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff and Dr. John P Zoller, Intertek, Germany. Attendance at the Dubai International Food Safety Conference has consistently doubled each year with its inception at Gulfood.
One of the most popular areas at Gulfood is the Salon Culinaire, where 1,000 international chefs compete against each other in front of a panel of 20 international judges - each mandated by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS). The practical and display-based competitions will test the differing skills of entrants whilst also celebrating the preparation and presentation of food and its accoutrements in attractive and pleasing forms.
Gulfood will also host comprehensive beverage workshops, organised by Industry specialists Zenith International.
Gulfood is strictly a trade-only event and is open to business and trade visitors from within the industry only, proof of which must be provided at registration. General public and persons under the age of 21 will not be allowed into the exhibition.
Interested trade visitors are advised to pre-register online at www.gulfood.com
where they can qualify for free entry. Industry business professionals on the day of the show will be able to buy either a Day Pass for AED 50 (US$ 14), or a Four Day Pass for AED 100 (US$ 27). Gulfood is open from 11:00 - 19:00 Monday 23 February to Wednesday 25 February and from 11:00 - 17:00 on Thursday 26 February 2009.