Gulfood opens with a plea to tackle global hunger

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, opens the 27th edition of the exhibition showcasing innovative solutions to meet emerging trends and rapidly evolving consumer habits



Sheikh Ahmed toured the show accompanied by Mariam Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority. — Supplied photo
Sheikh Ahmed toured the show accompanied by Mariam Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority. — Supplied photo
by

Issac John

Published: Sun 13 Feb 2022, 5:21 PM

Gulfood, the world's largest food and beverage sourcing event, opened on Sunday at the Dubai World Trade Centre amid calls for urgent action to transform food systems to tackle rising global food insecurity and hunger.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority opened the 27th edition of the exhibition showcasing innovative solutions to meet emerging trends and rapidly evolving consumer habits.

The five-day event features over 4,000 companies from 120 countries as well as a line-up of industry leading speakers.

Sheikh Ahmed toured the show accompanied by Mariam Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority.

Transform global food systems

Running alongside the show is Gulfood Inspire Summit, which was opened by Al Mheiri with a rallying call for “inclusive, innovative, data-driven process to transform food systems” to tackle rising global food insecurity and hunger, pointing out that 811 million people are facing hunger around the world.

The minister reminded that one in three people on earth is being denied access to adequate food, due to conflict, climate change and the impact of the global pandemic.

Calling for urgent action, Al Mheiri said the process to address this increasing challenge must be inclusive, innovative, and data-driven to help inform policies that boost food supply and eradicate food insecurity.

She explained how the UAE was leading the way by investing heavily in agtech, including Food Tech Valley – a groundbreaking project she described as a ‘playground’ for pioneering agtech solutions, specifically for arid climates such as the UAE.

The minister issued a rallying call for everyone at the world’s largest annual F&B sourcing event to roll up their sleeves, and play a part by thinking about how they choose what to eat, how they prepare it and what they waste.

Indian food products

Among the host dignitaries attending the show’s inaugural was Indian Ambassador Sunjay Sudhir, who visited Al Maya Group’s booth.

Kamal Vachani, group director and partner at Al Maya Group, said the Indian envoy appreciated Al Maya’s efforts to promote a large variety of Indian food products at the group’s supermarkets across the UAE and other Gulf countries.

Al Maya, a leading supermarket chain, is showcasing its new specialties and a variety of products in the fast-moving consumer goods category at the show, said Vachani.

Paul Newnham, director at SDG2 Advocacy Hub, which brings together NGOs, agricultural networks, nutritionists, campaigners, civil society, private sector, and UN agencies to coordinate advocacy efforts and achieve SDG2 by 2030, echoed those sentiments, telling Summit attendees that food “can be a driver of change”.

Newnham said the world needs to start thinking more holistically about food and what we do with every aspect of it.

Gulfood 2022 has the most expansive exhibitor line-up yet, including new pavilions from the Norwegian seafood industry, Uruguay, Panama, and Uzbekistan who will be joined by newcomers from Australia, Colombia, South Africa, Switzerland, and Hong Kong.

“Global food buyers, importers, and distributors will take advantage of the networking opportunities to find supplies suitable to their target market,” said Flavie Paquay, head of Business France’s UAE office F& F&B department.

Gulfood Zero Waste

The show witnessed the launch of Gulfood Zero Waste – a new movement to create a sustainable event and inspire people in the food business, as well as food lovers, to take action.

At the Gulfood Innovation Awards event, winners spanning eight categories from sustainable packaging and health, wellness plant-based innovations, to most innovative frozen food and chilled products, will be announced tomorrow.

Gulfood YouthX, a brand-new platform will debut this week aimed at empowering youth and fuelling the food and beverage industry's future. The inaugural event will help young Emirati talent turn their passion into a high-flying career. The Gulfood Top Table, running concurrently with the show, is a first for the event and is taking culinary experiences to new heights with a series of live demonstrations and workshops from a star-studded line-up of award-winning chefs and food influencers.

— issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com


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