|20 February, 2020

Region's food opportunties high on the agenda at Gulfood Innovation Summit

UAE Food Security Minister outlines how food security is a top priority for the UAE leadership

Region's food opportunties high on the agenda at Gulfood Innovation Summit

The 2nd Gulfood Innovation Summit is proving to be a hot-bed of enlightening insights and top-level discussion with an illustrious line-up of food and beverage (F&B) change-makers exploring new opportunities and potential for the regional and global markets and answering the call at Gulfood 2020 to ‘rethink food’.

Running alongside Gulfood 2020, the 25th edition of the region’s longest-running annual F&B trade show at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), hot topics under the Summit spotlight this week include emerging trends that will shape F&B consumption; rethinking food to achieve zero hunger; the use of AI in transforming the industry, and many more across the three days.

The summit, which will help set the industry course for a decade of opportunity for F&B operators witnessed a high-profile opening.

During her participation, Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, reviewed the challenges of food security in the UAE, stressing that the issue represents top priority for the UAE leadership. Her Excellency also shed light on the National Food Security Strategy and ways to enhance the use of technology in food production and management system of the entire food value chain, in addition to engaging the community as a basis for achieving food security in the UAE and the world.

Her Excellency Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mheiri toured Gulfood 2020, and praised the level reached by the exhibition and exhibitors in a way that keeps pace with the latest global trends in the food industry.

Meanwhile, with “dramatic changes” afoot in Saudi Arabia’s F&B sector, consumers reacting positively to evolution, and the Kingdom’s authorities receptive to innovative F&B operators, His Highness Prince Waleed Naser Al Saud, President of the Saudi Arabia Restaurants and Cafés Association (Qoot), told the summit that the Kingdom is open for F&B business.

Addressing a panel session titled ‘Saudi Arabia: A New Vision’, HH Prince Waleed told an engaged Summit audience that with the Kingdom’s visa on arrival scheme for tourists from 47 countries, relaxed segregation policies in public places, and a youthful, educated population “willing to go out and enjoy various forms of entertainment…the time is now” to invest in the Kingdom’s F&B sector.

“There are new legislations coming all the time to ease the process of doing business in the country,” said HH Prince Waleed, of Qoot, which is building partnerships across the F&B ecosystem. “Music can now be played in restaurants, there’s no longer segregation, live music is being played. A lot of dramatic changes are happening that have been welcomed by consumers, that’s why we have seen the positive impact,” added HH Prince Waleed.

“I don’t think anybody can grasp the change. If there was ever a time for businesses to open in Saudi, it is now – particularly in casual and fine dining,” added added HH Prince Waleed, before adding that Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 includes plans for Michelin-starred restaurants.

Prince Waleed called out to operators across the F&B value chain insisting there are opportunities for quick-service, casual and fine dining outlets, while the on-demand delivery segment was also “untapped”, adding “spending power is there, people want to go out and enjoy themselves, there’s huge opportunity and not just in retail but also in logistics.”

Andrey Dvoychenkov, Managing Director, MEA, at Nielsen, who was on the panel with HH Prince Waleed, cautioned operators to balance viewing the Kingdom as a land of opportunities with a long-term focus sustainable growth.

Insisting “healthy growth” should be the ultimate goal, Dvoychenkov revealed the current regional trend of “promos” and a “price-off” between operators is not the answer to gain brand loyalty: “90% of promotions are a temporary price drop, it’s a price-off, and I’m not sure whether that price-off can drive loyalty. We need to look at things from a different perspective and re-evaluate how we can communicate the value of our product. We should look at tackling new opportunities for a prosperous future,” added Dvoychenkov.

Optimising opportunities in the region’s hospitality sector will be further explored during GulfHost, the complete hospitality equipment sourcing expo for the Middle East, Africa and Asia (MEEA), when it returns at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWCT) from 6 – 8 April 2020.

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

© Press Release 2020

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