Gulfood 2016 will debut a new, three-day knowledge-sharing hub for food & beverage (F&B) professionals at the 21st edition of the world’s largest annual food and hospitality trade show, which runs February 21st – 23rd  at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

The revamped Gulfood conferences programme launches with the F&B Business Forum on February 21st at DWTC, where probing sessions will tackle crucial issues shaping business performance within the region’s expanding F&B sector. The programme then moves to the five-star Conrad Dubai hotel for the Gulfood Halal Forum and dedicated sessions devoted to food science and manufacturing on February 22nd, before ending with sessions on global food security and public health in the food industry on February 23rd.

The three-day programme will bring together a contingent of the local, regional and international food industry’s most prominent voices to guide and mentor the next generation of F&B business leaders, investors, innovators and policy-shapers.

“We are particularly excited about our new F&B Business Forum, which will interest those who have set-up or are exploring establishing an enterprise in the region’s F&B scene, as well as entrepreneurs and investors looking to export home-grown brands or import international franchises,” said Trixie LohMirmand, SVP, Exhibitions & Events, DWTC

The F&B Business Forum will open with a high-level presentation – Forging Partnerships Overseas – by Dr. Ashraf Ali Mahate, Head of Export Marketing Intelligence of Dubai Exports, an agency of the emirate’s Department of Economic Development. “Dr. Mahate will offer strategic insights into how firms and brands can successfully take products or concepts overseas and which markets are the most lucrative – information which is vital in the globalisation era,” added LohMirmand

Other Forum discussions will focus on the future of restaurant financing, best financing and franchising practices and start-up advice for F&B entrepreneurs. The opening day will end with the all-new Innovation Hub, where local food industry entrepreneurs will pitch innovative industry ideas to a five-strong judging panel. The ‘Dragon’s Den’ style format will see the winning submission awarded a cash prize to invest in their existing or start-up business.

“The Innovation Hub is a springboard for budding entrepreneurs to elevate their businesses – active or nascent – to the next level,” said LohMirmand.

F&B Business Forum speakers and presenters include Naim Maadad, CEO, Gates Hospitality; Daniel During, Principal and MD, Thomas Klein International; Nicholas Couvaras, MD, KROMA; Vikrant Rohatgi, Associate Director, KPMG; Martin Kubler, Founder, iConsult Hotels; Samer S. Hamadeh and Ziad Kamel, Co-founders and Managing Partners, Aegis Hospitality; Karl Naïm, Co-founder and CEO, Chef Exchange; Raki Phillips, Co-founder and CEO, SugarMoo Desserts LLC; and Khalil Shadid, Founder and CEO, ReserveOut,

One the second day, the Gulfood Halal Forum will open with a keynote address on the potential and opportunities in the global halal economy delivered by Asad Sajjad, CEO, Gulf Halal Centre, before an afternoon agenda of dedicated sessions on Food Science and Manufacture which will culminate in a probing discussion on the industrialisation of the African food industry.

On the conference’s final day, the focus shifts to global food security and public health across the food industry. Dr. Mahate will again take the stage to outline actions needed for Arab food security highlighting the progress made in the UAE and Kuwait, before Quintin Gray, Agricultural Counsellor, Office of Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Consulate Dubai, discusses regional co-operation in food aid and supply logistics. Other sessions will focus on agriculture in the Arab world, poverty reduction, process foods, a debate on the fortification of food staples and a concluding case study on the ‘sugar time bomb’ in diets delivered by Dr. Graham Simpson, Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Intelligent Health.

“The entire conference programme will deliver exceptional knowledge-sharing, networking and business development opportunities which align with the overarching objectives of Gulfood to deliver more content on industry trends and provide increased value to the visitor experience,” added LohMirmand.

Delegate fees for the Gulfood Conferences are AED4,957 (US$1,350) for a single pass and AED6,132 (US $1,670) for two passes with registration via [email protected]

Gulfood 2016 will feature 5,000 international companies from 120 countries and 117 national and trade association pavilions – five more than last year – with first-time group participation from Russia, Costa Rica, Belarus, Mauritius and New Zealand returning after a six-year break.

Among the 85,000-plus visitors from more than 170 countries expected, Gulfood 2016 will host international heads of state, ministers, government officials and national trade associations from five continents.

Gulfood 2016 is a strictly trade-only event for business and trade visitors. The show is open 11am-7pm from February 21-24 and 11am-5pm on February 25. Visitors can pre-register at www.gulfood.com to save AED100 (US$ 27) on the AED300 (US$ 81.70) on-site entry fee.