New features and old favourites at Gulfood

With Gulfood 2017 just around the corner, Tom Lawrence discovers the attractions and stalls that will make this year’s show the most vibrant yet

Acording to show director Mark Napier Gulfood 2017 marks, “a new era for the market-leading exhibition that first traded in Dubai in 1987.” The show, which runs from 26 February to 2 March 2017, will include new features as well as old favourites – but the highlight will be celebrating 30 years of Gulfood success.

The biggest change at Gulfood 2017 is the show’s format. The new sectorised layout promises to bring visitors and businesses closer together. In addition, says Napier, the new format will “afford deeper market insights and trend awareness through focused consultation with the right experts in one place.”

Gulfood 2017 also promises some notable new attendees. Big national pavilions last year included Italy and newcomers Russia – both return this year, and will be joined by first-time participants from as far afield as Malta, Finland and Slovakia. This brings the number of participating countries to 120.

Headline events

Alongside the innovations, Napier confirms there will be a “compelling schedule,” of events this year.

Halal produce is, “one of Gulfood’s fastest growing components,” says Napier. A dedicated meat and poultry zone means the 800-plus Halal certified suppliers in attendance can look forward to intense trading, while gaining insights into global Halal investment opportunities.

Following last year’s success, the show will also host the 10th World Cezve/Ibrik Championship. The “cezve” or “ibrik” – a small, long-handled pot used in the brewing of coffee – has been the focal point of fierce competition in recent years, with Konstantinos Komninakis of Greece taking the title in 2016.

The annual Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire is another “undisputed draw,” says Napier. This brings together 1,000 of the regions’ top professional chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers to compete to win the approval of a judging panel hand-selected by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies.

Perhaps the biggest attraction for foodservice professionals will be the eighth Gulfood Awards, judged by a panel of industry experts, which, says Napier, “will recognise best-in-class excellence and innovation across the region’s food and drink industry.” Awards in 20 categories are up for grabs at the gala ceremony, which will be hosted alongside the exhibition.

A stimulating show

Organisers are excited about the diversity of this year’s conference. “With its array of world-class exhibitors and the new sectorised format, we are optimistic Gulfood 2017 will be the show’s most successful outing to date,” says Napier.

So how will the show’s directors wind down after such a big event? According to Napier, they won’t. “After we close the doors on Gulfood 2017 the work starts again,” he says. In addition to organising 2018’s show, other Gulfood events have to be planned: these include Gulfood Manufacturing, the Speciality Food Festival, SEAFEX and yummex Middle East. It’s going to be an exciting year for Middle-Eastern foodservice. For consultants operating in the region, Gulfood 2017 is the perfect place to start.

Tom Lawrence

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