Leading global trade events Gulfood Manufacturing and GulfHost continued into a second day at Dubai World Trade Centre, with discussions on the regulatory landscape and investment opportunities in the F&B sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the pressing issue of global food price inflation.
The morning kicked off with a breakfast briefing and overview on next year’s inaugural The SaudiFood Show (taking place from 20 to 22 June 2023 in Riyadh), and a presentation of the investment opportunities in KSA’s F&B sector with a deep dive into the Saudi legislative system from advocacy body Mukatafa.
“When we talk about food manufacturing, we are also talking about technology, logistics and other segments that we are bringing to Saudi Arabia. At the same time, a lot of policies around ease of doing business in Saudi Arabia are being reviewed, and employment incentives are being introduced. The SaudiFood Show 2023 is coming at the right time, to bring international companies to Saudi Arabia” said Prince Waleed bin Nasser Al Saud, founder and chief executive officer of Mukatafa.
“With an F&B market valued at $45 billion, and the ambition to attract 100 million inward visitors per year to the country by 2030, the need and opportunity for a food manufacturing event in Saudi Arabia is clear, and we believe the timing is right,” added Mark Napier, vice president of Exhibitions at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Sustainability was in the spotlight at Gulfood Manufacturing’s Food Tech Summit this morning. During a keynote address on ‘A new era for sustainability and ways F&B manufacturers can embrace a greener, more sustainable business model’, Samuel Sigrist, chief executive officer of SIG Group, outlined how the company wants to be the leader in sustainable packaging for liquid food and beverage. He spoke about opportunities in this area, highlighting “partnerships are the foundation of the way we collaborate.” He discussed three challenges that we collectively face – food security and hunger, global warming and the use of plastic – and said how “we want to embrace the opportunity for a greener food and beverage model… and packaging can be a part of the solution.”
This theme continued at Top Table, part of the Speciality Food Festival. Masterclasses with leading regional chefs took place throughout the morning with insights from Russell Impiazzi, executive chef at Sofitel Obelisk who spoke about the initiatives the hospitality sector is taking to reach Zero Waste, the next goal for the fine dining and 5-star hotel segment. For Impiazzi, sustainability is a lifestyle we need to adopt in order to be role models for the next generation.
Rising food prices, one of the biggest current challenges in global food production, were addressed at Gulfhost’s Foodservice Excellence Summit, through a panel discussion on managing price inflation and minimising its effect on business.
Inflation is affecting different markets to different degrees, according to Amit Nayak, vice president of CHA. “When you look at inflation across the MENA region, it is affecting everyone differently. The UAE for example is ahead of the curve, continuing to host conferences such as this. With the euro and the pound being down, however, people may still travel to Dubai and spend X amount on a hotel room, but they may not have the spending power they used to. Inflation is here and we need to manage it. Menus need to be reduced and redrafted to handle the issue.”
In terms of managing the impact of inflation, Tapan Vaidya, chief executive officer of PJP Investments added, “We can not reduce on size or cost of our products because they are so regulated. Our menu engineering is done before we enter the market and then we need continuity across all of our outlets. We can however offer affordable options to customers, as well as affordable for us, at these difficult times. Consumers always think they are a victim of inflation, when in truth they have the power and they generate the demand.”
High-level discussions will move into the third and final day of Gulfood Manufacturing tomorrow, with a key session on the final morning focused on diversifying and strengthening the food supply chain between the UAE and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries, with presentations from Eng. Mohammed Mousa Alameeri, Assistant Undersecretary, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Saleh Abdullah Lootah, Chairman, UAE Food & Beverage Manufacturers Group (FBMG) and Yerlan Baidaulet, Director General, Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS).