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Gulfood 2018 opens as Middle East food consumption to reach 51.9m tons in 2019

Saudi Gazette | November 6, 2018
 The Islamic Chamber of Commerce , Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA)

The fifth edition of Gulfood Manufacturing, the Middle East (ME)’s biggest annual food and beverage processing forum, begins a three-day run at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) today (Nov. 6) with a future-gazing line-up that will see food production experts from more than 60 countries envision ‘The Factory of the Future.’

With regional food consumption due to hit 51.9 million tons in 2019, according to Alpen Capital, Gulfood Manufacturing is servicing a regional industry facing major investment and tooling upgrades to meet 4th industrial revolution requirements. The adoption of new technologies is widely viewed as the primary enabler in maintaining and building share in a market buoyed by strong consumer demand, yet hallmarked by increasing local, regional and international competition.

Strong market demand has promoted an exhibitor intake of over 1,600 manufacturers and suppliers from over 60 nations and a product line-up which points to a massive, industry-wide transformation.

“Much like any other industry, technology is making itself felt in food and beverage manufacturing sector. Innovative breakthroughs are being unveiled which will lead to the food industry becoming ever more efficient, sustainable, responsible and competitive,” explained Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions & Events Management, DWTC.

Leading projects spur massive demand

With construction work continuing on the $1.5 billion (AED5.5b) Dubai Food Park project that is being developed within the 550-million square foot Dubai Wholesale City, Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, UAE Minister of State for Future Food Security, revealed earlier this year the country is also developing a national future food security plan that includes advancing research and adopting technologies.

As food industry-related infrastructure projects in the UAE and across the Gulf fuel investment in sector-specific manufacturing, processing and supply chain solutions, Saudi Arabia’s high potential will come under the Gulfood Manufacturing spotlight as the country advances its $500 billion NEOM smart city economic zone, which is helping to send the Middle East’s food manufacturing sector into overdrive with its ambitious production and processing plans. NEOM is expected to lead the way in state-of-the-art technologies, such as arid and seawater farming and solar-powered greenhouses, leveraging high-grade technology to grow and process food in entirely new ways.

With anticipated domestic sector growth of 5.9% until 2020, according to Euromonitor International, major food sector buyers from Saudi Arabia - the Arabian Gulf’s biggest food producer and exporter – are attending Gulfood Manufacturing to source next-generation food processing products and expedite the country’s development agenda.

“Food processing worldwide is undergoing a blistering pace of change brought on by technological innovation and the region’s food-focused approach to smart city adoption – with the UAE mulling the setting up of a ‘Silicon Valley’ of food technology - are catapulting the Arabian Gulf into the global elite of the food processing industry,” said LohMirmand.

With innovation permeating the entire Gulfood Manufacturing programme, a probing Foodtech Summit, running November 7 and 8, will raise the shutters on the ‘Factory of the Future.’ Led by industry-specific experts, summit goers will explore how next-gen technologies, including artificial intelligence, digitalization, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), automatization, robotics and blockchain will transform food and beverage manufacturing. The program will also explore future food security.