• Five new sector entrants share AED50,000 funding after impressing judges with industry breakthroughs at Gulfood Startup Programme, supported by Dubai Chamber
  • Initiative inspires entrepreneurs to demonstrate expertise, innovation, social impact and economic acumen

Dubai, UAE : Five future-focused food and beverage (F&B) entrepreneurs have received cash prizes to continue breaking new ground in the sector after impressing judges in the Gulfood Startup Programme, an initiative, in collaboration with Dubai Chamber, designed to inspire new innovators to light the way for a smarter tomorrow.

The quintet was among a number of F&B trailblazers given centre stage at Gulfood 2020, the 25th edition of the region’s longest-running F&B trade show which runs at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) until Thursday, 20 February.

Participating startups were given the platform to demonstrate how their breakthroughs can really make a difference while also being judged on eight key criteria: innovation; expertise; teamwork; execution; social impact; competitiveness; economics and capital investment required for business set-up.

And, after coming through an intense delivery of exciting presentations of ideas and concepts in which each participant was given eight minutes to shine, a fantastic five from five countries - Agri10X (India); Essence Foods (Spain); Munchbox (UAE); Red Sea Farms (KSA); and Winnow (UK) - were awarded a share of the AED50,000 prize fund.

“Startups are playing an increasingly transformative role in so many industries, particularly right across the F&B supply chain. The Gulfood Startup Programme is designed to give entrepreneurs their own platform to demonstrate how their innovations can make a difference in shaping a smarter future for F&B. The level of innovation this year was truly inspiring,” said Mark Napier, Group Director, Gulfood. “The unwavering support of the UAE Ministry of Economy and the UAE National Programme for SMEs and Projects has been invaluable in shaping this initiative.”

An X-cellent future for farmers

India-based Agri10X, which is striving to transform the roots of agriculture by working at grassroots level with farmers, Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), local researchers and traders to create an agriculture eco-system backed by AI & Blockchain, impressed as representatives outlined how Agri10X’s use of technology, from an e-trading platform and online store, to digital finance solutions for farmers and post-harvest management systems, is generating higher income and profit for farmers and reducing crop wastage.

“We are very fortunate to be given such a wonderful opportunity to be a part of a platform, where the speakers and other startups involved are so knowledgeable. Winning the Gulfood Startup Programme has empowered us to do more and given us even more drive to help our farmers generate better harvests and income,” said Pankajj Ghode, CEO of Agri10X.

From printer to plate

Essence Foods was awarded its share of the prize fund after impressing with its approach to 3D printing in the F&B sector. Under its tagline ‘Upcycling the future’ with a focus on creativity, functionality and sustainability, Essence Foods used its time on the stage to demonstrate how 3D printing in food opens a new path to foodtech and food design, allowing chefs and culinary artists to expand their skills and customise shapes, tastes and flavours. Marcio Barradas, Founder and CEO of Essence Foods, said: “With plans to expand to the Middle East region, winning such an esteemed award has helped open more doors, assuring potential partners that our products are valid and significant!”

A healthy approach to snacking

Munchbox, a clean label brand pioneered in the UAE, showed how it has gone from a one-van operation in 2014 to the UAE’s biggest healthy snacking brand feeding a regional population with a growing appetite for healthy snacking options, now counting Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as export markets.

“Winning the Gulfood startup award is a great achievement; it feels great to be recognised by an organisation of such repute. It has greatly boosted morale and drive. This award has opened doors for us, and we have had a number of companies approach us for their business needs as well,” said Ahmoud Adham, CEO of Munchox.

Planting seeds for a better tomorrow 

Red Sea Farms, a start-up from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, was awarded following an educational presentation on how it is developing saltwater-based agricultural systems to reduce the carbon footprint of modern agriculture in a financial viable manner and create tastier, non-GMO and pesticide-free fruit and vegetables.

"It was an honor to participate in the Gulfood Startup Programme alongside several innovative, passionate, and talented entrepreneurs. We were thrilled to have been named as one of the winners, it was extremely validating for us as a company.  The event was also beneficial for us in terms of establishing relationships, networking and conducting high-level discussions; and we are confident it will help us scale to the next level in the coming months," said Jana Hubbard, Director of Business Development, Red Sea Farms

Tackling food waste

UK-based Winnow, which runs by the mantra ‘food is far too valuable to waste, technology can transform the way we use food’, rounded out the award-winning quintet, for efforts to tackle the issue of food waste through cutting-edge AI technology. Winnow representatives informed the panel that with 15% of food purchased by commercial kitchens never actually making it to the plate, its automated reports can help chefs simply understand what was thrown away, giving them better data on how the kitchen operates, and helping them focus on how to drive cost change.

Tjalling van den Burger, Business Development Manager at Winnow, praised the programme for giving new innovators the chance to shine, adding: “The Gulfood Startup Programme is a fantastic platform for sharing innovative ideas. There were some amazing startups present. We will be using this momentum to grow our presence in the Middle East and Africa on our mission to inspire others to see that food is too valuable to waste.”

Gulfood 2020 is a trade event open strictly to business and trade visitors. The show is open 11am-7pm on 19 February and from 11am-5pm on 20 February. For more information, visit www.gulfood.com


About Gulfood: www.gulfood.com 

Gulfood celebrates its silver anniversary in 2020. Split into eight specific food industry sectors, the trade-only show is professionally managed and hosted by the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). 

About Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC): www.dwtc.com 

DWTC brings more than 35 years’ experience delivering world-class events in the Middle East and provides local, regional and international exhibitors with unmatched expertise and in-depth market knowledge. Our team organises more than 20 of the largest and most successful international and regional shows in Middle East, providing an ideal platform for business development in the region. Our commitment to on-going innovation within the exhibition industry has supported the rapid growth and development of a wide range of business-to-business and business-to-consumer shows, and delivered consistent satisfaction to exhibitors and visitors. DWTC works with the leading trade bodies and industry associations to ensure that all exhibitions deliver full value and are built upon the real needs of their specific sector.

For more information, please contact:        
Naina Chaudhary
T: +971 4 3902980
M: naina.c@actionprgroup.com 

Sura Manhal Al Yaziji
PR and Media Relations Manager, Dubai World Trade Center
T: 043086087
Email: sura.alyaziji@dwtc.com 

© Press Release 2020

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