By Sarah Gain
The thirteenth edition of Gulfood proves a tremendous success.
As the region's largest and most established food and hospitality equipment, supplies and services trade show draws to a close, it's safe to say that Gulfood has once again been a roaring success.
Having seen considerable growth in exhibition space, exhibitor numbers and visitor numbers on previous years, the exhibition continues to drive the maturity of the market by bringing more specialised buyers to the Middle East.
The third International Food Safety Conference has provided food for thought for the region's F&B industry, while the beverage opportunity workshops delivered valuable insight into marketing, branding and best practices for beverage operations.
The new Restaurant and Café Middle East exhibition was another highlight, delivering a comprehensive range of solutions for any the restaurants and cafés setting up in the region.
As usual, there was also a lot of business done at the show, as many suppliers took the opportunity to introduce new products to the market, or to showcase their existing portfolios. Although the actual tally of business generated by the show will not be available for some time, judging from the success of last year's show, it is safe to assume that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of deals have been signed over the last few days.
"It is amazing how much business is done here," as Dubai World Trade Centre's (DWTC) Gulfood project manager, Elly Habt, confirms. "There was one country pavilion that did deals worth US $100 million on site in 2007," she reminds us.
And the Salon Culinaire proved as popular as ever, generating fierce competition among the 1000 young chefs that took part. A personal favourite was the addition of the new chocolate workshop, which offered up some mouth-watering creations - I for one will be looking to the return of that event next year!
For organiser DWTC, however, there is no time to sit back and celebrate. Work will be getting underway on Gulfood 2009 as soon as the last stand has been dismantled. "Looking forward to next year, we always respond to the industry's and market's needs, so whatever feedback we get from the exhibitors and visitors, we will be looking at that to see what we need to do for next year," says Habt. She is tight-lipped about exactly what excitement next year's show will hold, however. Her only promise is that there will be "further refinements of different sectors in the future".
I guess we'll all just have to wait and see!