That’s according to the boss of Gulfood Manufacturing, which takes place shortly in Dubai. He predicts that sustainability will definitely be one of the focuses among exhibitors when the show opens on November 7.
With regional food security challenges well documented, food wastage is a growing issue in the UAE. Priority should be given to reducing food wastage at grass-root level, educating young kids about the importance of food and the repercussions of any wastage, said Mark Napier, the trade show’s director.
“The growing regional population brings an inherent challenge to providing adequate food supply—it’s a key sustainability issue faced by regional governments and the F&B industry,” Napier said.
“Larger populations obviously require more food and with the high disposable incomes seen across the Middle East, there is also a rising demand for processed and packaged food to suit busy lifestyles. Challenge, however, means opportunity for the region’s food producers and manufacturers.”
Indeed, this demand growth is being seen clearly in the UAE, where the F&B segment is expected to increase by 4% annually to US$13.2bn by 2018, driven by new outlets opening and tourist numbers growing in-line with the country’s targets.
Across the GCC, the food retailing market is also thriving, and it is estimated that it will be worth US$155bn over the same period, according to Frost & Sullivan.
Another study, by BCC Research, puts the global market for equipment used in the food processing and packaging sectors on track to reach US$31.3bn by 2018.
In the UAE, the food processing sector is on a steady upwardly trajectory with the domestic food manufacturers already accounting for over 10% of Dubai’s industrial production, according to the Department of Economic Development.
“This is where Gulfood Manufacturing comes into play: we provide a tailored sourcing, procurement and networking for business to stay ahead of the technological curve, conduct business and, ultimately, improve operational efficiency and high-quality production,” said Napier.
According to Gulfood’s organisers, Dubai’s new industrial strategy has brought new interest from international food processing companies since it was announced by the emirate’s ruler earlier this year.
In late June, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum unveiled the multi-faceted policy, which featured F&B machinery and equipment as one of six key pillars, alongside aerospace, maritime, metals, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
Its focus is to elevate Dubai into a global platform for knowledge-based, sustainable and innovation-focused businesses, creating more than 27,000 jobs and delivering an anticipated AED160bn (US$43.6bn) to the local economy by 2030.
Among the objectives for the first phase of the strategy have been an increase in manufacturing output and growth in knowledge and information.
By adding value to local manufacturing, Dubai’s policymakers hope to make the emirate a preferred destination for international businesses—not least in halal manufacturing.
Gulfood Manufacturing’s organisers believe that the industrial strategy has helped fuel a 20% increase in the number of exhibitors at the show this year, with more than 1,600 companies expected to attend, including an increased number of companies from Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi push comes in the wake of the kingdom launching its own development strategy, Vision 2030, earlier this year. The policy’s aim is to raise the share of non-oil exports to 50% from a current level of 16% and ensure the country rises up the international economy ranks into the top 15 from 19th place by the end of the next decade.
“Saudi Arabia has built considerable expertise within the food manufacturing sector to serve its growing population and to safeguard sufficient strategic food reserves,” said Trixie LohMirmand, a senior-vice president at Dubai World Trade Centre, where Gulfood Manufacturing will take place.
“This expertise is now being harnessed in a major export drive through which the country looks to expand the GDP contribution of its private sector from its current 40% to 60%.”
She added that Saudi participation in the show is visible evidence of the Kingdom’s commitment to the drive.
The event, which will take place for three days until November 9, has attracted exhibitors from 58 countries, with every major machinery manufacturing nation represented.