DUBAI — The UAE’s food and beverage market is continuing its evolution as an international food and beverage capital thanks to forward-thinking operators looking to maximize their stake in a market expected to be worth a whopping AED82 billion by 2020, according to Euromonitor International.
Now a record number of local F&B businesses are preparing to capitalize on the growing appetite for quirky and inspired global produce by launching their cutting edge international product lines at Gulfood 2017, the 22nd edition of the world’s largest food and hospitality show which runs on Feb. 26 to March 2, 2017 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
Some 400 Emirates based F&B companies will be in attendance at the world’s largest annual food event, making it the highest number ever from within the UAE. Record numbers of these are also set to introduce novel ranges of new world fare that aligns with the buying requirements of international visitors seeking the latest trending food concepts.
Euromonitor’s growth figures underpin additional findings by F&B advisory firm KPMG, who describe the UAE’s “limitless investment appetite” thanks to its highly diverse, growing and relatively young population characterized by experimental tastes and preferences.
As part of their latest ‘Hungry For More?’ report, KPMG’s Partner and Head of Retail in the Lower Gulf Anuraj Bajpai describes the latest formulas for F&B success in the region;
“Innovation, whether in terms of menu enhancements or new ways of understanding consumer preferences is a differentiator. The wide array of formats, concepts and cuisines offered in the UAE mirrors its varied demographics. We understand the attraction of bringing something completely new to the market.”
Yet while long term market indicators remain positive, Bajpai is keen to point out the associated challenges. ”Operators need to understand and predict customer behavior – which can be challenging. There is merit in developing concepts that already have wider acceptance and appeal.”
In line with these sentiments, forthcoming Gulfood exhibitors are preparing to go under the spotlight with adventurous yet established product lines that have already proved popular in other parts of the world.
Forthcoming UAE exhibitors Acme Foodstuff Trading will be showcasing their wide range of exotic spices, seeds and herbs hailing from various parts of the globe including Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, India and Moldova.
Yet it is there unique brand of Turkish delight that is capturing the imagination of retailers, chefs and other foodies thanks to its authentic presentation style. At Gulfood 2017 this much loved confectionery will be served up ‘shawarma style’ from a vertical rotisserie that is reminiscent of traditional Turkish food markets.
Reem al Ghussain, Marketing Executive at Acme Foodstuff explains; “While the products are well-known in Turkey, there are few competitors here in the UAE. We plan to leverage Gulfood to create awareness of our new sub-brand Turkishdelights.com, as well as maintaining loyalty and attracting perceived customers for our trading business.
The food and beverage market here is consistently growing and expanding, and consumers are constantly looking for new innovative foods. We are sampling in an innovative way because we need to grab attention.”
Similarly, The Emirates’ Booba Coffee Shop LLC will be spring-boarding a variety of Asian-led products into the region where they are seeking further exposure. In particular, the company will be utilizing the Gulfood platform to highlight their unique line of Bubble tea, believing novelty and creativity will give them a competitive edge in the market.
Kirill Kossinski, Managing Director, Booba Coffee Shop LLC explains; “We will serve up a typical Taiwanese beverage derived from Jasmine Green Tea or Black Assam Tea that is flavoured and top with edible juice balls and jellies that are slurped through a straw. We plan to increase our portfolio within this region and launch retail locations at prime projects.”
Having first launched on the Asian food scene back in the 1980’s, this iced, sweet, flavorsome tea is currently one to watch on drinks menus throughout the United States. Having secured its position as an east-meets-west fusion trend, the UAE’s well-traveled consumers are thought to represent ideal market demographics to support the resurgence of this distinctive beverage concept.
“There is no doubt that innovative food ideas and concepts will evolve over the coming years in the UAE. Being somehow different and special in taste, look, and service was always a vital factor for Dubai’s food industry. That is now spreading.”
Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions & Events Management, DWTC, said “recent research is demonstrating that the UAE market remains resilient and there are strong fundamentals for long-term optimism in the F&B sector. Innovation is coming into its’ own and the Gulfood exhibitor profile is awash with new and exciting concepts which are gradually transforming the end-user experience. This all holds out enormous opportunity for operators and suppliers who are looking to leverage the concepts and products within their own businesses and geographic footprints.”
Gulfood 2017 will span more than 1 million square feet of exhibition space allocated to 5000 international exhibitors, including more than 1,000 new-to-show food and beverage producers bringing something innovative to the table. Segmented into eight of the largest commodity trading markets in separate halls, the event welcomes first-time participants Malta, Finland, Slovakia, Somalia & Azaerbaijan amongst more than 120 represented countries.
Gulfood 2017 is a trade event open strictly to business and trade visitors. The show is open 11 a.m.-7p.m. from Feb. 26 to March 1 2017 and 11a.m.-5p.m. on March 2. Visitors can pre-register at www.gulfood.com to save AED150 on the on-site entry fee of AED350. — SG