By Zainab Mansoor, correspondent
The 27th edition of Gulfood, the annual food and beverage event highlighted Dubai’s status as a global food and beverage hub as well as a strategic gateway for F&B trade. Gulfood 2022, which was held from February 13-17 across 21 halls at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), saw more than 4,000 companies in attendance, hailing from 120 countries.
Gulfood, which welcomed a zero-waste campaign this year, was a tipping point for the F&B landscape, with players looking to accommodate changing customer trends, rising demand for climate action and increasing sustainability. UAE-based food producer IFFCO noted that this year’s exhibition arrived at a watershed moment for the region and the industry. “As we tread through the new era of virtual everything, Gulfood provides key industry players and customers with a great platform to physically connect and navigate through our challenges,” said IFFCO’s executive director Rizwan Ahmed.
The exhibition also served as a platform for innovative F&B trends, techniques, and products such as cellular agriculture bio innovation (the production of animal sourced foods from cell culture methods), emerging plant-based food trends, and e commerce, among others.
“Industry transformation is worldwide and spans the entire ecosystem from agritech through to production, packaging and distribution, which is reflected in the 2022 line-up,” explained Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President, Exhibitions Events, DWTC. “The multi-national cohort will actively engage with a host of new Gulfood features aimed at enhancing the future through technology, improved nutrition, industry diversity, health, and sustainability.”
National pavilions as well as standalone food producers were found presenting their innovations and new-to-market products at Gulfood to meet consumers’ evolving habits.
Turkey upped its presence at this year’s event by 25%, with some 152 Turkish companies forming part of their national pavilion. “The UAE market is extremely essential for all Turkish companies because it allows them to re-export goods to the GCC, the Middle East and Africa,” said Nesibe Selten Hasdal, Director at Selten Exhibition Company, which led the Turkey pavilion. “We have also seen a significant growth in our business over the past year and expect to do even better over the next year post networking at Gulfood 2022.”
Meanwhile, Italy returned to this year’s exhibition with 180 companies, marking a 50% increase on last year’s participation. The Italian Trade Agency led the national pavilion, in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy in the UAE and the Consulate General in Dubai.
Amedeo Scarpa, Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE noted, “Italy continues to be one of the most important suppliers of the UAE. The total amount of agri-food exports to the UAE reached EUR189 million in 2021, a 27% increase on 2020. This year we have launched our new campaign about Italian food and cultural awareness under ‘Italy is simply extraordinary #beIT.”
Simultaneously, Estonia beefed up its participation at Gulfood this year by 166%, responding to trends for high nutritional value, health benefits and a balanced diet.
The United States also introduced 28 new-to-market entries at this year’s event. It had its first-ever pavilion in the pulses and grains sector of the show, while over 100 companies showcased innovative products.
Chile participated with a contingent of 22 companies, representing vast food verticals from pulses to agribusiness, with the aim of expanding its export footprint in the Middle East market.
Top Table – A first this year
The 2022 event introduced the inaugural Gulfood Top Table, a first of its kind offering. The Gulfood Top Table aimed to take gastronomical experiences to greater heights with a series of live demonstrations and workshops, featuring up to 70 chefs from 50 restaurants preparing over 1,000 unique dishes.
From acclaimed chefs and culinary maestros to influencers and journalists, all stakeholders partnered to host live demonstrations and masterclasses, with an inherent focus on sustainability, local produce and tackling food waste.
Initiating on day one’s Top Table was Nick Alvis, founder and executive chef of Folly. “If we are not sustainable, we have no food life to use. It’s great to hear that the UAE has more fish farming and produce coming directly from local farms. It’s fantastic to see the massive rise in sustainability within the last two years, and we as chefs are trying to use as many locally sourced ingredients as we possibly can,” said Chef Alvis.
Furthermore, renowned Italian chef and F&B director of Waldorf Astoria DIFC, Luigi Vespero held his Tortellini in Brodo Masterclass. “The dish I’ve created is a representation of sustainability and reducing food waste as every ingredient you buy is used in the dish with nothing going to waste,” he added.
Gulfood 2022 Innovation Awardees
At the Innovation Awards, Latvia’s King Coffee Service Ltd took home the prize for Most Innovative Beverage. Rocket Bean Roastery/ Rudy’s Kombucha is a cold-brewed Kombucha that is described as 100% keto, 99% coffee, 0% alcohol and 100% halal.
Veg-Toona bagged the Most Innovative Frozen or Chilled Food accolade. The 100% veggie tuna is ideal for trade as it can be kept for two months in a tray and up to one year in a can. Carob Syrup BIO, the 100% natural alternative sweetener walked away with the Most Innovative Halal Product award.
Fettuccine Zero+ won the Most Innovative Health, Wellness & Plant-based Product accolade. Its pasta made from red lentil flour and packed with protein and fibre is designed for athletes and sports enthusiasts.
Also, Drip Coffee - San Marcos and San Ramon bagged the Best Packaging Design Impact award. Its single-serve drip coffee comes in a compostable envelope and recyclable box.
NZMP organic butter Carbonzero won the Most Innovative Dairy Product prize and Olam Food Ingredients’ Lightly Salted Almonds in Composite Canister Packaging won the Most Impactful Sustainable Product title. Watermelon seed oil in capsules by International Trade Centre won the Most Innovative Organic Product title.
For a list of all the winners and finalists, please visit Innovation Award 2022 - Winners Announced
Gulfood returns on 20-24 February 2023 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
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