Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) officials are confident a new segmented show format will be the next stage of the annual Gulfood exhibition’s evolution, as the show prepares for the biggest format shake-up in its highly successful 30-year history.
Opening tomorrow (Sunday, 26 February), Gulfood’s five-day run is expected to attract up to 90,000 food professionals, with some 5,000 plus exhibitors from 150 countries vying for a stake in a multi-billion-dollar MENA F&B market. The show will also encompass the world’s biggest annual Halal food sourcing trade exhibition, Halal World Food.
And for the first time, Gulfood will feature a segmented layout, with eight dedicated zones designed to ensure visitors get the most out of their visit by being able to quickly connect with their priority producers and suppliers. The eight dedicated segments at Gulfood 2017 are: Beverages; Dairy; Fats & Oils; Health, Wellness & Free-From; Pulses, Grains & Cereals; Meat & Poultry; Power Brands and World Food.
Spanning some 1,000,000 sq ft – the size of 17 football pitches – Gulfood 2017 will occupy every inch of internal space across 19 DWTC halls, as well as two purpose-built outside structures.
According to Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions & Events Management, DWTC, the 22nd edition of the show will put ‘business first’ and retain its mantle as the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade. “We are confident the new segmented format being piloted this year will receive a positive response given that it has been designed to save visitors time and result in heightened productivity. The new format will also preserve Gulfood’s continued growth across all segments, from ingredients to finished products,” said LohMirmand.
“All analyst forecasts for the region point to sustained rising demand well into the next decade spurred on by population growth, changing dietary trends and the region wide expanding retail and hospitality sectors. Despite adding our largest-ever assortment of new-to-show exhibitors this year, such is demand for space that we continue to have an extended waiting list of exhibitors.
“This year’s event caters to all food and beverage professionals from the entire industry eco-chain with unprecedented fresh sourcing opportunities from the high percentage of new-to-market exhibitors and new-to-market products. The international profile of exhibitors makes this a truly global B2B platform, which provides access to partners that they would find incredibly time-consuming and costly to reach any other way – we are putting business first at Gulfood,” she added.
The geographic pull of the show is also expanding. This year Gulfood features 120 national pavilions with four countries – Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta and Somalia – represented for the first time. China, India, Italy, Spain, and the USA will also mount their largest Gulfood pavilions to date. The international pavilions will be up against a host of regional country promotions, most notably from Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco.
The exhibitor profile is a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of the global food supply industry – from dairy to oil producers, from cereal growers to the latest in organics and healthy snacks. Literally hundreds of new product launches are lined up, with most signalling a seismic shift in the dietary habits of food buyers.
“This show is a trend tracker. As a source of market intelligence, it’s unbeatable. For those in the industry needed to stay ahead of the curve, it is essential to visit. Times and appetites are changing and this is clearly reflected in heightened consumer focus being placed on healthy eating with food provenance rising rapidly up the agenda,” explained LohMirmand.
Returning to Gulfood for a fourth consecutive year, Halal World Food will further cement its standing as the world’s biggest annual Halal food sourcing trade show. More than 1,000 international specialist Halal food brands and companies will convene at Halal World Food 2017 promoting thousands of Halal products, from energy drinks, vegan and vegetarian foods, to meat and poultry, canned goods, gourmet and fine foods.
One of Gulfood’s undisputed draws is the annual Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire – the world’s largest single-entry chef competition. The 2017 Salon Culinaire will gather more than 1,000 of the region’s top professional chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers for a series of competitions evaluated by a panel of renowned experts mandated by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) to judge culinary events across the globe.
Meanwhile, the eighth edition of the Gulfood Innovation Awards will recognise and reward best-in-class excellence and innovation across the region’s food and drink industry. Divided into 20 categories, the highly-prestigious accolades are judged by an international panel of independent industry experts. The ceremony will take place at the Conrad hotel on the evening of Sunday 26 February.
Gulfood 2017 is a strict trade-only event and is open to business and trade visitors. The show is open 11am-7pm from February 26 to March 1 and 11am-5pm on March 2. Visitors can register on-site for entry fee of AED350 (US$ 95).