Record figures at Gulfood

Michael Jones reports from Gulfood 2014 in Dubai, the world’s biggest annual food and hospitality show


Only two days into the show and Gulfood has seen a record number of exhibitors, trade officials and industry leaders from 120 countries. More than 80,000 attendees from around the world throng the vast halls of Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). With a record 113,398m² of exhibition space and 4,500 companies from 120 countries taking part,  Gulfood 2014 is being trumpeted by the event organisers as the largest and most international edition yet in the event’s history.

Long considered by FCSI consultants to be a pivotal show in the event calendar, Gulfood was officially opened by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and minister of finance and industry. H.E Helal AlMarri, CEO of DWTC and director general of the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), leading politicians, ambassadors and dignitaries from across the globe were in attendance at the grand opening.

Gulfood has continued to grow consistently since it was launched 27 years ago and has proved itself to be a key catalyst for business in world foodservice markets. “This year’s record participation at Gulfood comes as Dubai’s position as the regional hub for hospitality, trade and tourism is accelerated by the emirate’s confirmed hosting of the World Expo in 2020, which is fuelling further market growth opportunities for the global foodservices industry,” said Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice president of DWTC and organiser of the show.

“Gulfood has grown to become a significant driver for global food and beverage markets and is a key enabler in Dubai’s status as an international events destination and trading hub.”

Global food security on the agenda

This year also witnessed the inaugural World Food Security Summit, an off-site conference held at the Conrad Dubai hotel and billed by the organisers as a “Gulfood Leaders Event”. The conference was attended by over 300 ministers, industry experts, corporate CEOs and government representatives and addressed weighty issues on the agenda such as the importance of securing stable, cost-effective and safe food supplies for the world’s ever expanding population.

Organised in conjunction with the UAE’s Ministry of Water and Environment, the summit was opened by His Excellency Engineer Saif Al-Shara, assistant undersecretary, Agricultural Affairs and Animal Sector, who spoke eloquently on the pressing concern  of food security in the Middle East and the challenges in securing the region’s future food supplies. “We are proud to be hosting this global summit in the UAE, and hope our discussion will enrich the ongoing global dialogue to improve the world’s food security situation,” he said. “There is no doubt that this is a global priority and the contribution and commitment from all parties participating in this significant summit will help feed the world’s population in the future.”

There were also speeches from Essa Al Ghurair, chairman of Al Ghurair Resources, Yves Manghardt, chairman and CEO of Nestle Middle East FZE, Vishal Tikku, regional managing director for Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods) and Sanjiv Kakkar, chairman of Unilever MENA and Turkey. A panel made up of ministers for agriculture from the UK, Argentina, Canada and Australia discussed how their respective nations are working towards a sustainable food security policy.

Gulfood has also been successful in highlighting Dubai’s place as a significant international trading hub for the world’s halal food industry, welcoming hundreds of manufacturers, processors and distributors from over 50 countries to the first Halal World Food.

Awarding innovation

Elsewhere, on the evening of the opening day of the show, the fifth edition of the Gulfood Awards recognised the latest cutting-edge products in the industry. The awards were judged by an international panel of independent industry experts and attracted more than 250 entries from 19 countries. Twenty different awards were presented, including:

Best sustainable catering equipment innovation – IMS – Waste Station
Best light equipment innovation – Muddle Me – PacoJet 2
Best heavy equipment innovation – MKN – FlexiCombi
Best new catering equipment innovation – TSSC – Baby Jaws Under the Counter Bottle Breaker
Best Sustainable Catering Equipment Innovation:  IMC – for WasteStation
Best New Health and Wellbeing initiative: Unilever – UFS Food Safety
Best environmentally sustainable initiative:  Lupin Foods Australia
Best new foodservice innovation – Groix & Nature  Lobster Oil
Best environmentally sustainable initiative – Lupin Foods Australia

The Gulfood Industry Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Alen Thong, co-ordinator of the Emirates Culinary Guild and managing director of John Holt Foods, in recognition of his “outstanding commitment and achievement within the Middle East’s food and beverage industry”.

A full list of winners can be found at

Further events staged at the show this year include the Gulfood Franchising Conference, the first Barista Bonanza and Coffee Council and the first ever Tea House that celebrates Dubai’s position as the largest re-export hub for tea.

FCSI’s own stand is located at S22 in the Za’abeel Hall and is proving to be a focal point for professional and allied members to set up meetings with clients, as well as attracting new members who are interested in learning more about the latest developments in foodservice in the region.

The show continues until February 27, with more information available at

Michael Jones