Gulfood Manufacturing 2018, the fifth edition of the region’s biggest food industry processing event – witnessed a major expansion of the annual show’s visitor geographic footprint across continents, further cementing its position as a gateway to Africa – one of the world’s major global growth markets.
Key players among the 35,000-strong turnout of visiting industry professionals from 160 countries, revealed that commercial potential evidenced by African buyers had delivered an unexpected, yet welcome, windfall over the three-day show, which ran November 6-8 at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
For global sector leader International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF), which leveraged an experiential display to attract high levels of interest on its first Gulfood Manufacturing outing, the show’s ability to unearth intercontinental opportunities made the long journey to Dubai worthwhile.
“The effect of our multi-sensorial experience room, where we tried to re-imagine the future of food to foresee what changes might be and how they might translate into today’s F&B world, was certainly the highlight of our participation,” said IFF’s Mamdouh Seoudy, Business Development & Marketing Manager Middle East & North Africa. “We were thrilled with the commercial potential we generated and the diversity of new buyers we were able to meet. The geographical diversity of visitors was especially noticeable for us, with Sub-Sahara Africa delivering a great and unexpected representation. The size of the event, the number of visitors, and the quality of exhibitors and content was beyond our expectations.”
IFF’s ringing endorsement was underpinned by other mainline exhibitors, who all reported a significant uptick in on-the-floor business compared with the 2017 event.
Dohler, the global technology-driven ingredient, systems and solutions provider, reported a 15 per cent first-day upswing in lead generation with the quality of leads leaving the company’s MENA Regional Project Manager Gayatri Vivek Damle, “most impressed.”
German smart processing solutions provider GEA added that the 2018 show proved invaluable in reaching new prospects with Branding and Advertising Director Stefan de Roo celebrating actual early-show signed deals. “Half way through the show we’d nearly met out targets,” he said.
The breadth and speed of buyer response came as no surprise to show organisers DWTC, with the 2018 edition taking on the mantle of ‘Future in Focus’ for the global food processing and distribution industry which is on the cusp of a major disruptive overhaul.
“The show has huge industry appeal as it hosted a spread of international breakthrough technologies which are set to reshape a sector, which is racing to meet seismic changes in consumer demand and driving the 4th industrial revolution efficiency to heighten competitiveness,” explained Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions & Events Management, DWTC.
“Across the globe, every serious industry player acknowledges the need to keep abreast of the new sector dynamics and that investment for competitive advantage is now non-negotiable. The upsurge in interest from Africa is attributed to the huge investment upswing under way on the continent to optimise its agricultural potential and the fact that Dubai is a gateway to this vast market with daily flights to most African nations being only around four-hours and with freight sea-lanes easily accessible from Jebel Ali port.”
The net result was a show which morphed into a ‘laboratory of the future’, with Gulfood Manufacturing’s 1,600 exhibitors from 60 countries applying cutting-edge innovation to a range of critical industry issues, from improved food safety and traceability systems, to food waste, improved yields, labour scarcity and shifting consumer preferences.
All these key issues were aired at show’s associated ‘Food Tech Summit’, which ran on November 7 and 8 and blueprinted the Factory of the Future by exploring next-gen technologies, including artificial intelligence, digitalisation, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), automation, robotics and blockchain transformation.
“The future-themed content of the conference, and the wider show, provided an enormous pull, with the conclusion being that for this industry the future is quite literally here today,” said LohMirmand. “Our history of value-add show features continued with new-look innovation demos and tours.”
The innovation demos ensured that visitors – including some of the 2,000 C-level executives who were hosted on a Big Buyers programme – received deep insights into the progressive technologies on offer. The tours took in the show’s five dedicated sectors: Ingredients, Processing, Packaging, Automation & Controls, and Supply Chain Solutions.
“This is an industry which is at the vanguard of national priorities and the 4th industrial revolution practices. With regional players keeping a close watch on global developments, we are committed to ensuring Gulfood Manufacturing reflects a sector where the pace of change in massively outstripping that of many other manufacturing segments,” concluded LohMirmand.
Gulfood Manufacturing returns to Dubai World Trade Centre from 29-31 October 2019.