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Thu 29 Jan 2009 12:30 PM

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3,300 companies eye slice of $10bn GCC imports

More than 70 countries will be represented at food and drink trade show in Dubai.

More than 3,300 companies from more than 70 countries will descend on Dubai in Feb looking for a slice of the GCC's $10 billion import industry.

The Gulfood exhibition – the largest trade exhibition in the region for food, drink, foodservice and hospitality equipment – is taking place as a new report named the UAE and Saudi Arabia among the top 30 importers and exporters in the world, highlighting the importance of the GCC market.

“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.”

The recent Free Trade Agreement with Singapore and the ongoing discussions with China, India, Pakistan, Japan, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand are also expected to 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.

Mohammed Ali, category manager for Spinneys Fruit and Vegetables, said: “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."

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.

Organised since 1987, Gulfood is the region's largest industry event of the year. The trade-only show reported record visitor attendance in 2008 with a total of 39,147 trade professionals from 148 countries attending the exhibition.

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