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Sun 1 Apr 2007 03:43 PM

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African food expo to attract ME producers

Big Seven, Africa's biggest food and beverage exhibition, is set to attract record numbers of trade visitors and exhibitors from the Middle East to this year's edition of the event, which is due to take place in Johannesburg, from July 15 -17, 2007.

Big Seven, Africa's biggest food and beverage exhibition, is set to attract record numbers of trade visitors and exhibitors from the Middle East to this year's edition of the event, which is due to take place in Johannesburg, from July 15 -17, 2007.

Indeed, the event, which comprises seven specialist food, drink and FMCG exhibitions, including Halaal World, could offer FMCG professionals in the Middle East an ideal opportunity to tap new markets and discover new products, according to John Thompson, a spokesman for the event's organiser, Exhibition Management Services.

Furthermore, Thompson added that Africa is emerging as a market with huge potential for food and drink companies. "There are over 350 million Muslims in Africa," he said. "Many of them are based in southern Africa so it doesn't make sense to try to service them from the North. In addition there are close to 750 million people living on the continent with increasingly sophisticated retail needs, so the potential for Halaal and non-Halaal food supplies is huge. Rather than to try to tackle this vast market from the North alone, it's been proven in other sectors that a dual pincer type approach is more valid."

FMCG companies in the Middle East could replicate the success of many Indian companies that have already gained significant business in Africa, Thompson added. "India has already taken up the challenge and has become a partner nation for 2007, which concludes that its agro-processing industries are looking aggressively at the African market," Thomson said. "I'm certain that Middle East companies can do likewise. They know the environment, have the latest production facilities and capabilities to meet growing needs and are hungry to serve both the Halaal and the non-Halaal markets."

The Big Seven, billed as the food, retail and FMCG showcase for the continent of Africa, comprises seven related exhibitions held concurrently over a three-day period. In addition to Halaal World, which is being run in conjunction with the SA National Halaal Authority (SANHA), the event brings together food producers and manufacturers with key markets such as wholesalers, supermarket chains, independents, convenience stores and garage forecourt retail outlets.

In addition to the exhibitions the event includes a series of workshops and conferences. These include a two-day International Halaal Conference which is the second time this international conference will be held.

Furthermore, the event is likely to attract speakers, delegates and visitors from around the Muslim world keen to discover the Halaal readiness of South Africa's food suppliers.

Big Seven is being held at Gallagher Estate, Midrand, Gauteng from July 15 -17, 2007. The Pan African event attracted 7,000 visitors from 31 different countries in 2006.

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