From organic farming to molecular gastronomy, from the industry trends to the words of caution, from best agricultural practices to role of innovation in the industry — the sixth SIAL Middle East exhibition, ended on a high note, leaving visitors and the participants wanting for more. The fastest growing event for the region’s food, drink and hospitality sector, the event covered a wide ranging topics this year. The success of this event can be gauged by the fact that both regional and global trade agreements, worth more than AED3.7 billion were confirmed during the event.
A number of major onsite announcements were made during the three day show, including UAE-based agricultural firm and headline sponsor Al Dahra’s agreement with Jordan to supply nearly one million tonnes of wheat and barley to ease the country’s food security
Apart from this, the event also highlighted ‘entreprenuership and innovation’ as major dirvng forces in growth of F&B sector of the region.
Inked pacts and renewed trusts
The UAE signed deals with Morocco for US$41 million for the plantation of olives, red fruits, citrus and livestock farming in Morocco. Retail partner Lulu expected to sign a range of deals worth up to US$7 million while Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre — through their retail brand, Local Harvest, signed deals, which included Emirates Future, the leading livestock trading company.
Also, a record number of entries were received for the SIAL Innovation World Champions awards’ showcase won by The Coffee Brewer by Soil Store for their innovative coffee on-the-go bag. Up from 142 entries in 2014 to 218 this year, a total of 113 products competed in the final.
New to the show this year was the Regional Barista Championship, organised in association with the International Coffee & Tea Festival. A total of 20 regional barista competitors competed for the titles of Best Regional Barista 2015 which was eventually won by Armiel Alkuino and the Regional Latte Art 2015 winner Frederik Bejo.
Organic farming and its future
Industry professionals attending the event also showcased the latest trends and innovation in the food, beverage and hospitality sector. The participants were provided with expert insights into the burgeoning regional organic food market.
According to a 2014 report by Frost and Sullivan, organic farming in the GCC is set to reach US$1.5 billion by 2018 due to changing consumer tastes and habits. Furthermore, the number of organic farms in the UAE rose to 39 covering a total of 3,920 hectares, marking an increase of 1,698 percent since 2007 when just 218 hectares accounted for organic farming.
Food security throughout the region remains one of the most dominant topics of discussion as regional demand for food imports rises due to an expanding population, a booming tourism industry, increasing per capita income and limited water resources.
New look of last edition’s SIAL Middle East primarily focused on innovation and global food trends. There were series of
facilitators to ensure bonding among various stakeholders, who are working in the direction of streamlining food resources globally. The developments being made in the organic food industry are just one example of the innovative work being done in the region benefitting the economy and business.
It was highlighted during the event that the UAE is quickly becoming a key market for organic products. Organic exports from the United States to Abu Dhabi have increased by 346 percent from 2011 to 2014 and sales for first half 2015 have already surpassed total for 2014.
More and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of organic and are making choices to incorporate organic products when possible. This of course is limited by available supply, however the organic customer is a loyal customer and does not often go back to conventional once the switch has been made.
According to US Trade Bureau Data, regional organic imports from the USA have risen from US$4 million in 2011 to nearly US$25 million in 2014. The UAE, Saudi, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain are the biggest importers.
SIAL Middle East is part of SIAL Group, the world’s largest network of professional B2B food exhibitions.
The event has witnessed a substantial growth over last five years since its launch in 2010.
Backing the fact, it is worth a mention here that the event has also seen an around 120 percent increase in the trade buyers and a double digit growth in the number of pavilions in past half decade.