Aside from new product development, the most interest at the show was in when BASF would enter formerly closed markets such as Iran and Iraq, according to Ludger Roedder, director global business management for food performance ingredients at BASF.
Opening up borders
Roedder said conflict continued to destabilise the region but added "I think some countries in the region are opening up, and we would like to be there.”
“It’s very clear, as soon as borders open, people use the time and opportunity, so they’re visiting. The interest is huge, I’d say – we have to find the right partners, and that’s what we’re looking at right now. We had a lot of visitors, so we are evaluating the people we talked to."
BASF’s focus at the Dubai show was on structural ingredients, rather than flavouring products, said Sarah Schmidt, the company’s global communication manager for human nutrition. One of its main focus areas at the show was its range of Lamequick whipping agents, which the firm’s staff demonstrated at the booth.
“The best thing is to show people the product – both our ingredients, and the end product. We have our show-kitchen, where people can taste the product. But what we’re not doing, we’re not bringing a lot of taste ingredients – but people can really see the structure, and how it’s working when you change it,” she said.
Roedder added: “It’s a tongue-catcher rather than an eye-catcher – we want people to taste, to tell us what they feel, what they taste. And that gives us excellent feedback – it usually comes from the heart when you eat something, so it leaves an impression of what you’re going to focus on.”
Region starts to think of health
According to Schmidt, Middle East customers were particularly keen on having a very white product, and also something that can be frozen and thawed without affecting the structure. On the health aspects of ingredients, she said the region is starting to see this as more of a priority.
“It’s changed a bit in the last two years – this was also a reason why we launched a new non-hydrogenated Lamequick, as non-hydrogenated fats is a very important thing we can influence in the food ingredients sector. We presented this at the Innovation conference, and we had a lot of feedback after the presentation, a lot of people passing by the booth asking for it, and how the product can fit into their products,” said Schmidt.
“There’s a pyramid of food demands – First you need enough to eat, and that’s done. Then you want to get more delicious food – that’s what our food performance ingredients are about. Then you’re thinking, maybe the things I’m eating are not so healthy – how can I change this? This is the part we’re reaching in the region at the moment – they’re trying to make food more delicious, and also now more healthy,” she added.