GCC appetite for fine foods spurs international brands’ businesses

SEAFEX, The Speciality Food Festival and Sweets & Snacks Middle East, the region’s only dedicated platforms for the seafood, gourmet and fine food ingredients, confectionery and snacks sectors, drew to a close with strong sales and substantial business reported by participating exhibitors.

GCC appetite for fine foods spurs international brands’ businesses

SEAFEX, The Speciality Food Festival and Sweets & Snacks Middle East, the region’s only dedicated platforms for the seafood, gourmet and fine food ingredients, confectionery and snacks sectors, drew to a close with strong sales and substantial business reported by participating exhibitors.

The influential niche food trade shows, which took place at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), attracted more than 400 specialist food & beverage companies and 12,285 visitors from every corner of the globe, looking to tap into the lucrative opportunity that the GCC food services industry represents.

“The sales and business leads generated at the shows highlight the significant roles they play in facilitating trade in these fast-growing markets. From family teahouses to global manufacturers of chocolate, we have received positive exhibitor feedback on the quality of visitors and the shows’ success in attracting a highly-targeted, niche market,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, DWTC.

The fourth edition of The Speciality Food Festival, the Middle East’s only dedicated gourmet and fine food trade exhibition, highlighted its success at reaching its target audience, with millions of dollars worth of business conducted during the show.

First time exhibitor, LE Group Industries LLC, a premium distributor of American long grain rice that is produced and packaged in Brazil, benefited from the show’s reach and contacts with key decision makers in the Middle East and Africa.

Agustin Caceres, VP Operations, LE Group Industries LLC, said: “During the show we have met with key suppliers from Georgia, Iran, Afghanistan and Nigeria – key markets for us that we’ve struggled to reach in the past. With over $1 million of gross sales conducted during the show and more than $5 million forecast to complete in the coming months, we will definitely be back next year.”

Following last year’s highly-successful inaugural edition, SEAFEX, the region’s most influential seafood industry trade show, was particularly well received in a region where fish often tops the menu. The show saw a 38 percent increase in exhibitor space with representative companies from a total of 28 participating countries, including Argentina, Austria, Canada, China, Denmark, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Seychelles, Peru, Vietnam and Yemen.

The significance of SEAFEX for participating countries was reflected in visits to the show of a number of high-ranking government, ministerial and trade delegations. These included the Northern Ireland’s Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster, who reflected on SEAFEX’s potential for North Irish suppliers following a visit to her national pavilion: “Northern Ireland’s food and drink industry is one of our most successful manufacturing sectors and one which has a long standing commitment to exporting. The global focus and trading experience of Northern Ireland companies means that buyers can count on them to supply quality products on time, every time and at competitive prices that ensure value for money.

 SEAFEX was an exciting opportunity for our local companies to make face-to-face contact with buyers and decision makers from the grocery, wholesale and speciality retail sectors. I am confident that our participation in SEAFEX will allow us to make the contacts we need to successfully bring new seafood brands and products in to GCC markets.”

Representatives from Walter Ewing’s Finest Smoked Salmon, one of the premium Northern Ireland producers of salmon and shell fish, were ‘thrilled’ with trade response to their products. “As a producer of premium organic salmon and shellfish, our market is very niche,” said Crawford Ewing, the company’s Co-founder. “SEAFEX has been an ideal platform for us to reach an important target market and we are thrilled with the quality of visitors to our stand. We leave the show with a number of very promising leads.”

First time exhibitor at SEAFEX, Eurabia, chose the show as a platform to launch its range of speciality fresh seafood and aquariums. The show ‘exceeded expectations’ according to CEO, Jurgen Scharkosi: “SEAFEX provided us with excellent regional exposure – we reached customers in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Kuwait and Oman as well as our target customers in the UAE. We received over 3 tons of orders during the show and we expect more to be finalized over the coming months. We are really pleased and will definitely be returning next year with an even bigger stand.”

The region’s largest and most influential trade show for the snack and confectionery industry, Sweets and Snacks Middle East, provided a truly international platform for product selection, with more than 182 specialized exhibitors from 34 countries showcasing both sweet and savory snacks and confectionery.

The world-renowned German producer of innovative confectionery specialities, Eichetti, returned to Sweets & Snacks Middle East with high hopes. Commenting on their participation, Ramona Keller, Export Department, said: “This is the second time that we have participated at Sweets & Snacks Middle East.  After attending last year we saw a substantial increase in our regional market share and our ongoing Middle East expansion will be helped via several excellent business contacts and potential contracts we have mined this year.”

Leading local chocolatier, BMB Group confirmed the importance of Sweets and Snacks to its annual growth. Bilal Ballout, Co Founder said:  “Sweets and snacks consistently delivers contacts and contracts with key clients in the region’s confectionery industry, contributing significantly to our yearly growth which stands at 40 percent a year to date.”

First time exhibitor to the show, Fruidoraix, a specialist confectioner and family-owned business from the South of France, was another satisfied customer. Daniel Eisenberg, the company’s Export Manager, said:  “Our specialist almond-based confections and nougat products are especially popular and while we do supply private Middle East customers for weddings and celebrations, our aim here was to identify potential retailers.  I’m pleased to say we’ve done just that.”

Special features taking place during the shows included a full schedule of inspiring cooking demonstrations from some of Dubai’s top chefs at the dedicated Chef’s Corner. Presented by the Baking and Pastry Guild, the demonstrations complemented the gourmet show’s position as a forum for specialist buyers, chefs and suppliers to review, showcase and sample products, and as a meeting place for networking and closing business transactions.

“This year’s successes demonstrate the shows’ collective position as the only dedicated trade platforms for the gourmet, seafood and sweet & snacks industry. The shows delivered exceptional business opportunities, showcased industry excellence and talent, and facilitated knowledge exchange at a truly global level,” LohMirmand added. —SG