Gulfood 2013 – Networking Luncheon
- H.E. Hamad Buamim, Director General, Dubai Chamber
- Saleh Abdullah Lootah, Managing Director, Al Islami Foods
- Dr. Azhar Hassan Al Haboby, Executive Manager, Hail Agriculture
- 260 delegates
To transform international exhibitions into business opportunities for members and to facilitate meetings between local and global businesses, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the Gulfood Connect networking luncheon on the sidelines of the ongoing 18th edition of the Gulfood 2013 exhibition at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
H.E. Hamad Buamim highlighted the importance of the business matching session, which was attended by 260 delegates. He stated that the idea behind it was to provide Dubai Chamber members in the Food & Beverage Manufacturing, the Foodstuffs Trading and the Fruits & Vegetables Trading business groups the opportunity to share best practices, establish new alliances across the region as well as globally, while promoting Dubai’s position as a central trading hub.
Key Points Discussed:
Dubai Chamber presentation
- The presentation pointed out investment opportunities in the food industry especially in canned/preserved food, frozen and dried food and ready meals, as the country re-exported half of its imports to Gulf countries, the Middle East, Africa and Asia and the Commonwealth countries because of its strategic geographical location.
- Frozen processed food sales increased by 12% in 2011 to reach AED 95 million, while the dried food sales rose 10% in the same year. Current value sales of dried processed food increased by 10% in 2011 to reach AED 1.8 billion while the current value sales of canned/preserved food increased by 12% in 2011 to reach AED 285 million.
- The UAE’s food-processing sector has been undergoing a period of expansion to achieve self-sufficiency and is expected to develop further.
- Thanks to foreign direct investment and government efforts to enhance domestic food production and self-sufficiency, production facilities have emerged with increased regularity. Demand for imports continues to be fuelled by significant demand from expatriates.
Presentation on Islamic Food by Mr. Saleh Abdullah Lootah, Managing Director, Al Islami Foods
- Mr. Lootah explained the concept of halal food, and pointed out that the halal market, whose value is about USD 500 billion, is witnessing speedy growth due to the mass outreach of the teachings of Islam, growth in family size and the concept’s move from niche markets to mainstream markets.
Presentation on Food Security by Dr. Azhar Hassan Al Haboby, Executive Manager, Hail Agriculture
- Dr. Azhar pointed out that agriculture’s contribution to the UAE’s GDP is only 1% due to the wide gap between the available water resources and increasing demand, adding that the fertile agricultural land accounts for only 1% of the total land.
Plan of Action
- Highlighting the country’s advantage in exporting food products, Buamim said that the UAE re-exports nearly 50% of imported food. Given Dubai’s strategic location, these products can be easily exported to the GCC and wider Middle East region, which will enhance growth further.
- He added: “We also see opportunities for partnerships with food growers in Africa, using Dubai as a production base, and we will be helping to facilitate this area through our new overseas representative offices across the continent, with one to open soon in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and countries such as Egypt, Kenya and South Africa in the pipeline.”
- Dubai Chamber’s focus, moving forward, is to position Dubai as a gateway to African nations, and this will benefit the industry.
- Buamim added that the initiative by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai to establish Dubai as the centre of the Islamic economy, will create opportunities in the halal food industry. Dubai is an ideal hub for this and given its extensive infrastructure and distribution network could become the world’s leading supplier of quality Islamic food products and services.
- Highlighting the challenges faced by the halal food sector, Mr. Lootah pointed at the lack of awareness about the product and minimal investment in innovation and research, lack of options provided to the consumers as well as the competition between global and local brands. He stated that major brands have to market the product correctly to the niche market.
- Dr. Azhar suggested measures to improve food security, including the promotion of research, development of agricultural policy, enhancing local and overseas investments, optimum use of water and land, private sector investment locally and abroad and liaison between local investors and Government bodies in identifying priority projects.
- The 18th edition of the Gulfood exhibition, which sees participation of 4,200 exhibitors and 65,000 visitors from 110 countries, will inform participants about updates and innovations in food production and processing worldwide.