That’s the view of Mark Napier, show director at Gulfood, which gets underway this Sunday (February 18) in Dubai.
More than 5,000-plus exhibitors are expected at the 23rd edition of the event, which features more than 120 national pavilions including first-time participants from as far afield as Estonia, Serbia and Slovakia.
According to Napier, Gulfood 2018 will further strengthen the UAE’s lead role in setting the global food agenda.
“In attracting the Middle East’s largest trade industry audience, generating huge transactional volumes every year on the show floor, and setting global foodstuff commodity prices, Gulfood is the region’s premier food and beverage industry platform — it underlines Dubai’s leading role in the global food sector,” he said.
He said innovation was key was any company’s long-term success in the region, arguing that “staying still is the equivalent of going backwards”.
“Whether you are a fledgling start-up in the Middle East, or a major international manufacturer in Europe or the USA, companies looking to stay successful and ensure prolonged growth need to stay ahead of the curve by investing in automation, new channels to market, increasingly sophisticated ingredients and packaging solutions.
“The ultimate proof is in the eating or drinking, so end products must be attractive to consumers in everything from price and packaging, to taste and provenance.”
He added today’s customers want to know where their products are made, what ingredients have been used, and, vitally, if they originate from sustainable sources.
“When the end customer has finished consuming the product, they want to know their environment impact is as low as possible — meaning sustainable, environmentally-friendly and biodegradable packaging will continue to be in vogue.
“The modern consumer is spoilt for choice, so only products that tick a diverse spread of demographic demand boxes in geographies where consumer preferences often vary from market to market will be able to compete in the increasingly competitive global food sector,” he added.
The global food market is due to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5% from 2015 to 2020, while the UAE food and beverage market alone is anticipated to reach a valuation of AED82 Billion (US$22 billion) by the end of the decade, according to Euromonitor International.
FoodNavigator-Asia will be onsite at Gulfood. To arrange a meeting please contact firstname.lastname@example.org