Mark Napier, exhibition director, Gulfood Manufacturing, told FoodProductionDaily.com the show has been created because of ‘unprecedented market demand’ for the region’s manufacturing, processing, packaging and ingredients sectors.
“Thanks to rising populations and increased disposable income, the demand for food across Gulfood Manufacturing’s primary catchment area across MEASA is growing exponentially,” he said.
“Food demand across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) alone is expected to increase by $1 trn by 2030, according to the World Bank forecast.”
“Rising demand for processed and pre-packaged food in the Middle East – which now accounts for more than 50% of the GCC food industry - has led to widespread regional investment in the food processing industry, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan report.”
The governments in the GCC region (Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE) are investing in strengthening food processing capabilities, he added.
“Many offer financial support and direct subsidies to international food production companies, to set up local facilities and boost the sector’s immediate and long-term growth,” he said.
Hit the ground running
Companies investing in the region need to get their heads around regional nuances and regulations – and do so fast, Napier said.
“In my opinion, speed of adaption is a challenge,” he said. “International companies entering the region have to hit the ground running to maximise growth.
“This means they have to get to grip with a whole range of factors - from understanding regional tastes and how consumers respond to brands, right through to a host of regulatory factors.”
Gulfood Manufacturing has been designed to help companies understand these issues, he added.
From aquaculture to organics… trends to watch
Pre-packed foods are popular because of their extended shelf-life and because they offer convenience, Napier said. He quotes Smithers Pira figures which say the MENA region’s packaging market is currently valued at $41.1bn and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 5% to $52.4bn by 2019.
Accounting for a 33.8% market value in 2014, the food sector represents the largest end-use sector for packaging products while the beverage market accounts for 25.2%.
GCC governments are trying to secure the region’s immediate and long-term food supplies, which includes investing in foreign food producing countries as a source of imports, he added.
“The Saudi Arabian government, which has already established a strategic reserve for basic food commodities to meet demand and avoid future food crises, has started providing funds and logistics to Saudi investors exploring foreign agriculture initiatives.
“This strategy, which aligns with regional government’s economic diversification policies, is a key food trend that appears here to stay.”
Napier identifies aquaculture as one of the world’s fastest growing food production sectors, which currently accounts for nearly half of all fish consumed in the world. GCC countries are starting to invest in aquaculture projects to help meet rising seafood consumption.
The organic food and beverage sector is also growing ‘substantially’ across the Middle East.
“While a lack of arable land limits many regional nations’ capacity for mass agriculture, numerous farmers markets, organic cafés and organic supermarkets have opened in the UAE and beyond,” Napier said.
“Kitchens and shelves need constant filling, representing a huge opportunity for organic food producers and companies across the food industry supply chain.”
Gulfood Manufacturing targets more efficient production and distribution
Gulfood Manufacturing is for companies involved in the production, supply and distribution of the food industry and provides regional and international food manufacturers with the ingredients, equipment and business improvement tools for more efficient production and distribution, Napier added. The exhibition is also targeting technology and solutions buyers.
“The regional food manufacturing, processing and packaging industries are experiencing tremendous growth,” Napier said.
“This event serves to unite players in the regional sector with the international machinery and equipment providers they need to secure sustainable productivity, profitability and business growth.”
“We are courting the industry personnel who identify business improvement solutions – from production-heightening machinery and equipment to cold-chain, supply and warehousing solutions which enhance profitability.
“This show is not for retailers and distributors; it is for those people behind the scenes who make and process the food that finally ends up on retailers’ shelves and consumers’ dinner tables.”