Gulfood returns to the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) for its 26th edition this month, with industry professionals recognising its importance in reinvigorating global connections and making up for missed opportunities as the world’s first in-person sourcing event for the global F&B sector in almost a year. Running from 21-25 February across 20 exhibition halls at DWTC, the most competitive global sourcing platform will welcome participants from 85 countries, coming together to reconnect, reignite business in an industry beset by changing customer behaviours.
With a diverse exhibitor line-up and a who’s who of international power brands eager to capitalise on DWTC’s safe business environment and Gulfood’s status as the only place to start the year with confidence, the show will be held against a backdrop of the UAE National Food Security Strategy. It is a strategy that visualises the country ranking among the top 10 of the Global Food Security Index; the UAE vision is expected to be a magnet for international industry engagement at Gulfood 2021.
Aside from business opportunities arising from the UAE’s national food security goals, participants will also discover an industry transforming with innovative products and technology designed to address massively changing consumer behaviours including trends towards organic, natural and healthy products, contactless transactions, plant-based protein, sophisticated and proven providence ingredients, as well as convenience meal kits and environmentally friendly packaging.
“This is a watershed event as the first opportunity that global F&B players have to physically meet, and source much-needed new business to reboot a sector following one of the most challenging years ever,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President, Events Management, DWTC. “Much has changed in the 12 months since the last Gulfood, yet the industry has responded with innovation, determination, and product and process transformation. All of which will be prominent at Gulfood 2021, the industry’s most innovative meeting ground, making up for lost time and giving rise to huge opportunities. Furthermore, being the first live event for the sector, exhibitors can anticipate meeting with buyers who are looking to place major orders for the new normal era.”
DWTC has proved its capability to curate the safest face-to-face business environment and deliver world-class events with the highest safety protocols. This is evidenced with the recent GITEX Technology Week, the only live in-person tech event in 2020. Held in December, the event welcomed tens of thousands of visitors with 96% of local and international attendees recording a ‘safe’ or ‘very safe’ experience.
With product sampling and food handling such a vital interaction at a global F&B event, those proven protocols have been further intensified for Gulfood 2021, under strict guidance and coordination with Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Dubai Municipality, to ensure the safest possible business conditions. Exhibitors must provide hand sanitiser to visitors before the food sampling commences in a designated area within the exhibition stand. Live cooking demonstrations are permitted however food must be served on individual plates and food is to be consumed at the stand; all live cooking demonstrations must observe 2 metres social distancing.
Wearing of masks will be mandatory, with social distancing and contactless transactions in place across the 20 halls to ensure the wellbeing of all delegates. On-site registration will not be available; registration must be completed in advance via www.gulfood.com. “We are committed to providing the safest environment for people to do business,” added LohMirmand. “We have implemented a series of measures in accordance with the health and safety guidelines set out by the local authorities. Additionally, exhibitors and visitors can be reassured by DWTC becoming the first convention and exhibition centre in the Middle East achieve the prestigious Bureau Veritas Safeguard Label, which attests to compliance with the highest hygiene standards.”
And exhibitor feedback points to Gulfood being a timely boost for the F&B industry to kickstart face-to-face meetings to spur a business resurgence. Sergey Vologodsky, Vice-President of Russian Export Center recognises that the show serves as a key forum to showcase the best of the Russian industry to a global audience: “You cannot put a value on that crucial face time with like-minded sector professionals, so it is great news for Dubai and the global food industry that Gulfood is returning in-person. We look forward to an engaging and successful show, and invite you to the stand of Russian manufacturers, represented by 22 companies within the World Food Pavilion.”
“All the signs are that there’s another challenging year ahead,” said Akram N. Kassatly, President of Kassalty Chtaura, a leading beverage manufacturer from Lebanon. “The only way to start it right is to secure business now. Gulfood is the most efficient international food & beverage exhibition, in terms of quality of visitors, Gulfood enables us to start the year with conviction and confidence.” Established F&B heavyweights are eager to reconvene and reignite business goals at Gulfood 2021 and are encouraged by the safety measures in place.
“We are looking forward to getting back to the exhibition floor at Gulfood and have full confidence in the integrity of Dubai, the show organisers and the government of UAE in maintaining strict safety protocols,” explained Willem van Walt Meijer, Chief Executive Officer, Al Ain Farms. “Both the emirate and the exhibition have robust reputations as strategic business hubs.” Having long established a reputation over the past three decades as the major platform to network, exchange knowledge, conduct mega business transactions and set industry benchmarks, Gulfood 2021 will once again provide boundless opportunities for both exhibitors and visitors.