By Laura Barnes
Gulfood 2006 proves a huge success with over 30,000 trade visitors and buyers
The Dubai World Trade Centre played host to this year’s Gulfood exhibition with record trade visitors and exhibitors from over 135 countries. Turning into an annual event for the first time, the food, drink, foodservices and hotel equipment exhibition was held over four days last month and saw over 30,000 trade buyers.
Although the Danish pavilion withdrew from the show due to the current political climate, Helal Al Marri, director general of the Dubai World Trade Centre said there were 300 companies on the waiting list, proving the growing popularity for the four-day event.
“It is unprecedented for an exhibition to go from a biennial to an annual format and actually experience an increase in floorspace and demand from companies. We are really proud of what Gulfood has achieved,” said Al Marri.
The show, which saw the return of many companies, also played host to a number of new companies and countries exhibiting for the first time, including Palestine, Malta and Zambia. However, regular exhibitors were amazed by the increase in demand and business, considering the show only just turned into an annual event this year.
“The show has been a big success for the French exhibitors. They got to meet a lot of buyers from the UAE as well as from other Gulf countries so there has been a lot of interest,” said Eric Santier, managing director, Sopexa Middle East, French food marketing board.
“Last year was very busy, but to be honest this show was even busier, which proves the popularity of the food industry in this region,” he added.
UAE companies also saw success at the show with Jackson Vending, a UAE company specialising in vending and coffee machines signing two deals on the third day of the show, worth a total of AED2 million (US $500,000). Additionally, EDAM, a UAE company specialising in meat products signed deals with buyers from Canada, Australia and the Czech Republic.
However, for a number of first time exhibitors, having a presence at the show was key to meeting people in the industry, as well as seeing food and beverage trends in the regional market. Honey King International, a Dubai-based company specialising in premium honey products for the hospitality sector, exhibited for the first time this year, and was amazed by the number of international trade visitors.
“We had a lot of interest from Yemeni companies, which we didn’t expect, but it just shows how popular and international this show is. There is a real growth of new potential in the region,” commented Rudi Hertogs, managing director, Honey King International.
The success of this year’s show, and the high presence of food and beverage companies as well as chefs from regional hotels, is expected to continue next year, with an extra 10,000m² of space being added. Show organisers have already confirmed that 75% of the existing show has already been rebooked for next year.