According to its organisers, Gulfood will play host to more than 200 specialist coffee manufacturing, trading, roasting and packaging firms. The regional trade market for coffee and related products is growing significantly, with more than 4,000 coffee shops in the UAE alone, and the market expected to grow by 30% by 2020.
Consumption grows, Yemen returns?
“Coffee is more than just a drink in the Middle East, it is an inherent part of the culture, a leisure pastime and business pre-requisite. Add to this the region's rising population and the UAE's anticipated hospitality boom in the run-up to Expo 2020 Dubai and the growth landscape is obvious,” said Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice president for exhibitions and events at Dubai World Trade Centre.
“Other shifting trade patterns are now also coming into the equation with new growers, such as Angola, gaining ground and revitalisation predicted for countries such as Yemen,” she added.
This year’s Gulfood show will play host to the ninth World Cezve / Ibrik Championship, to determine the best Turkish coffee maker in the world. This will be the first time the competition has been held in the Middle East.
Coffee has been touted as a potentially strong cash crop for Yemen, which could help revitalise its economy after the end of the current conflict, which has seen the country’s economy grind almost to a halt. According to the latest available figures from the International Monetary Fund, coffee makes up just 5% of Yemen’s non-oil-related exports, but strong demand from Saudi Arabia could make it a significant source of income.
F&B growth of 7% for KSA and UAE
Aside from coffee, the Middle East’s prospects for the food industry remain strong, despite the ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Syria, and falling oil prices. Research firm BMI International forecasts a compound annual growth rate in food consumption of 7.7% to 2019 for the UAE, and 7.3% for Saudi Arabia, despite what it describes as “short-term economic headwinds”.
Of the UAE, a recent BMI International report said: “Existing high levels of spending, combined with rapid private consumption growth, will create premiumisation opportunities across the food and drink industry, while volume growth will be more limited due to the country's small population. We also hold a positive view on the mass grocery retail sector, especially the convenience segment, which will benefit from increasingly time-poor consumers and increasing numbers of women entering the labour force.”
Gulfood will run from 21-25 February at Dubai World Trade Centre, with more than 85,000 visitors expected to attend.