Gulfood 2020 to encourage food businesses to innovate
The food and beverage sector in the GCC will continue to grow at a rate of 7.1% annually.
The 25th edition of Gulfood will kick off at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) on Sunday under the theme 'Rethinking Food' and will encourage food businesses from various sectors to examine their output in an age of major innovation and evolution across the global F&B sector.
Gulfood 2020 will run until February 20, 2020 and has drawn the participation of over 5,000 exhibitors from 140 countries, reinforcing the UAE's strategic position at the crossroads of the international food industry. The annual food and beverage trade exhibition is also set to mark its silver anniversary this year. Various industry experts that will be participating at the five-day exhibition, noted that the event is the ideal platform to interact with decision makers, pioneers, and regional and international investors.
The Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA), which announced that it will be taking part at the trade exhibition with a full-fledged pavilion, said that it is looking forward to introducing the international business community to the promising investment opportunities available in Sharjah's food and beverage industry.
"We, at the Hamriyah Free Zone, pay the utmost attention to providing investment incentives and developing state-of-the-art infrastructure and legislations that support the aspirations of leading brands in the food and beverage industry to strengthen their presence in the region's markets. Our efforts have yielded good results, making HFZA an incubator to major food and beverage companies through a 380,000 square metre Food, Plastics and Packaging Park that effectively meets the needs of companies involved in consumer goods," said Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, director of the Hamriyah Free Zone Authority.
Al Mazrouei also added that the HFZA will shed light on its mega project, the Sharjah Food Park, which was launched in 2017. Al Mazrouei pointed out that the food and beverage sector in the GCC will continue to grow at a rate of 7.1 per cent annually to reach $ 196 billion by 2021, compared to the current rate of $130 billion, adding that HFZA will spare no effort to support this growth by providing all kinds of facilities and services.
Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice president of Exhibitions & Events at DWTC, noted that the regional F&B scene has undergone seismic shifts in market approach, mainly due to urbanisation, migration, and the rise of the middle class, which are reshaping consumer lifestyles and purchasing decisions.
"We now see higher rates of local production and exporting in a region which, for many years, was totally import reliant. Consumers are prioritising their health and that of the planet. Look out for more transparent labelling, increasing concentration on health & wellbeing, ethical ingredient sourcing, more environmentally friendly packaging," said LohMirmand.
One of the biggest ongoing revolutions in the industry revolves around plant-based products as an alternative to meat consumption.
"We are no longer in the experimental stage where plant protein food sources are a gimmick or something quaint," said Jacek Plewa, GM at Healthy Farm, a frozen food brand under the Albatha Group, which will be showcasing a growing portfolio of plant-based products at Gulfood 2020.
"These alternatives are impressively gaining preference across the globe as consumers recognise the tangible impact left by nutrition choices on health, wellness, the environment, and animal welfare. Bearing this in mind we anticipate that 15-20 per cent of meat consumption in the UAE and the region will plant based by 2025, and we aspire a 50 per cent share for Healthy Farm's portfolio of plant based products," he added.