French exhibitors have strong showing at Gulfood Manufacturing

French exhibitors have strong showing at Gulfood Manufacturing
The latest technologies in the industry were on display at the three-day event. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 November 2022

French exhibitors have strong showing at Gulfood Manufacturing

French exhibitors have strong showing at Gulfood Manufacturing

DUBAI: Gulfood Manufacturing & Gulfhost, one of the region's largest annual food and beverage sourcing event, held in Dubai on Nov. 8-10, brought together leading agri-food companies and specialists in the industry across production, equipment, packaging and F&B to address the Middle East markets. The latest technologies in the industry were on display at the three-day event. 

French companies were among the top participants, with 58 French exhibitors spread across three pavilions: processing and packaging, food ingredient, hospitality and foodservice equipment. 

Networking and strengthening cooperation in the food processing sector were on top of the agenda to meet the requirements of a fast-growing market. Seventy percent of the French equipment companies presented innovative solutions, namely eco-friendly packaging, and water treatment systems, among others. 

By all accounts, the biosecurity of agri-food factories has become a major challenge. “We have developed processes to transfer a wide range of products (pastes, liquids, and solids) without water over long distances to avoid any risk of cross-contamination and to respond to industrial demand,” said Laurent Getain, managing director of GMMI, an industrial equipment design company. 

GMMI offers energy-saving, powerful, and hygienic pipe transfer systems as well as engineering, automation, and industrial maintenance services, he added. 

This is particularly relevant with different players across the supply chain increasing efforts towards energy efficiency, water management and waste reduction, in a world calling for immediate action to curb the impact of climate change. 

Apart from equipment, the French pavilions displayed ingredients in the agro-food industry, such as dairy ingredients, vinegars, powders and liquids, and plant-based ingredients, to state a few. Exhibitors offered organic, vegan, functional or conventional ranges.  

Fontarôme, a company creating aromatic compositions for the perfume industry, has expanded its operation over the past 40 years to include food flavours, plant extracts and aromatic raw ingredients. 

“There has been an exponential growth in the demand for products related to nutrition and well-being since COVID-19, in addition to the rise in demand for vegan products,” said Stéphane Scheirlinck, sales director at Fontarôme. 

For the French company, “the Middle East, African and Asian markets are exploding,” Scheirlinck added, hence it was important for French companies looking at entering the GCC market to participate in Gulfood Manufacturing. 

“The UAE and GCC food sector have become more self-reliant over the last few years. Various efforts are undertaken by governments to reduce food waste and support research,” said Flavie Paquay, the UAE director of Business France and head of the Agritech Department.  

“The GCC countries have invested heavily in increasing the local food production, logistics and storage to ensure self-sufficiency. French companies exhibiting at Gulfood Manufacturing collaborated with the region to build a strong food ecosystem thanks to their high-tech innovations, solutions and best quality products made in France,” she added. 

On the distribution side, companies like IES Ingredients, distribute raw material, and operate across three business sectors, aroma, perfume and cosmetics. 

IES Ingredients presents a portfolio of ingredients that is 50 percent synthetic and 50 percent natural that the company can offer to the food industry with a spectrum ranging from fruity notes to essential oils, popular in Middle Eastern markets (e.g. cardamom, often present in coffee in the region). 

This is the first participation of IES in Gulfood in association with Business France, a participation which could facilitate more growth following the opening of its new warehouse in Sharjah, a step undertaken to cater the Middle East and African markets. 

“The expansion will start from the UAE, but we see potential in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait among other countries,” said Noël Poinsignon, IES Ingredients’ deputy general director. 

The company’s strategy is to have the stock on site for fast quality of service, with products delivered within 24 to 48 hours. 

In a global context of increased risk of natural disaster, prices of essential oils and natural products will rise due to reduced availability. To limit this risk, IES Ingredients signed a partnership with a bio-tech company, providing alternative sources of ingredients, while keeping the raw materials for the food industry. 

“We witnessed strong demand at the end of the COVID-19 for cosmetics, perfumes and food, and strong growth is expected for 2023, despite the rise in inflation,” said Poinsignon. 

Under the flagship “Choose France”, seven French companies were part of the Gulfhost devoted area for hospitality and restaurants, “bringing out the best of what French food and beverage industry has to offer on the international stage,” added Paquay. 


Saudi-based AJA Pharma and the UAE’s Bioventure agree deal to license and supply new pharmaceuticals

Saudi-based AJA Pharma and the UAE’s Bioventure agree deal to license and supply new pharmaceuticals
Updated 13 sec ago

Saudi-based AJA Pharma and the UAE’s Bioventure agree deal to license and supply new pharmaceuticals

Saudi-based AJA Pharma and the UAE’s Bioventure agree deal to license and supply new pharmaceuticals

RIYADH: Saudi-based AJA Pharma has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UAE’s Bioventure FZ-LLC to license and supply new pharmaceutical products.

According to a bourse filing, the new additional selected pharmaceutical products in the Middle East region are set to be used in the Saudi Export stand at the upcoming Arab Health Expedition 2023.

Under the terms of the new MoU, Bioventure, a subsidiary of GlobalOne Healthcare Holding, is set to focus and develop various delivery forms including complex-to-develop formulations, diabetes, oncology, and biosimilars.

In addition to this, the biopharmaceutical company is also expected to advance and propel therapeutic categories that are projected to be among the largest and fastest-growing within the global pharma sector over the coming years.

The financial impact of the one-year agreement which was signed on Feb. 1 is yet to be disclosed.

Commenting on the agreement, Thamer Al-Muhid, CEO of investment firm Saudi Chemical Co. Holding – of which AJA Pharma is a subsidiary – said: “SSCH aspires to develop its manufacturing arm in the pharma sector, AJA Pharma, through such investment which will contribute to strengthening its position as a Saudi pharmaceutical manufacturer in the field of Oncology, Diabetes and Specialty products, to serve and meet community needs.”

Also, Ashraf Radwan, CEO of GlobalOne Healthcare, said: “Bioventure is committed to improving access to quality healthcare for patients in the Middle East, and this MoU with AJA Pharma marks a significant step towards achieving that goal. By expanding our licensing and supply capabilities, we can bring a wider range of innovative, effective treatments to the people who need them most. I am thrilled to be working with AJA Pharma to bring these solutions to patients in the Middle East and make a meaningful difference in their lives”.

Bioventure is a biopharmaceutical company with a global network focused on biotech as well as a wide range of pharmaceutical activities.


SAMA among Gulf central banks to mirror US Fed 25 bps interest rate hike  

SAMA among Gulf central banks to mirror US Fed 25 bps interest rate hike  
Updated 02 February 2023

SAMA among Gulf central banks to mirror US Fed 25 bps interest rate hike  

SAMA among Gulf central banks to mirror US Fed 25 bps interest rate hike  

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank has increased its interest rate by 25 basis points to 5.25 percent, echoing Wednesday’s move by the US Federal Reserve to curb inflation. 

A statement from the bank, also known as SAMA, noted its Reverse Repo rate has also increased to 4.75 percent.  

Inflation is on the rise in the Kingdom, with the annual rate rising to 3.3 percent in December, up from 2.9 percent in November.  

The Fed’s quarter-point interest rate hike follows months of larger increases, as it hiked 50 basis points in December, and 75 basis points in November, September, July and June.

Despite recent signs of a slow down in the US economy, prices are running at their highest level since the early 1980s. 

While the US Central Bank’s decision was driven by its desire to lower high inflation, this played a part in driving the Gulf region’s monetary policy, as most of the region’s currencies are pegged to the dollar.  

Following the US Fed’s decision, regional central banks also swung into action to raise their interest rates – although Qatar chose to hold. 

The UAE's central bank increased its base rate to 4.65 percent, effective on Thursday, while the Central Bank of Oman hiked its Repo rate to reach 5.25 percent.

Bahrain also raised its main rate by 25 basis points, with its one-week deposit facility rate rising to 5.5 percent, while the overnight deposit rate hit 5.25 percent. 

Qatar’s Central Bank said in a press release Wednesday that it would keep its rates unchanged, keeping its deposit rate at 5 percent, its lending rate at 5.5 percent, and its repo rates at 5.25 percent. 

As it was predicted that the country would mirror the Fed in early 2023 by the credit ratings agency Fitch in a report last month, this decision came somewhat as a surprise. 

The Central Bank of Kuwait, which raised its interest rate by 50 basis points last month, often acts separately and does not necessarily follow the Fed’s hikes.  

In addition, the Central Bank of Egypt is forecast to raise its overnight interest rates by 150 basis points at its regular monetary policy committee meeting on Thursday, a Reuters poll showed last Monday.  

The CBE increased its interest rates by an unprecedented 800 basis points over the last year alone, and has been involved in a constant series of currency devaluations.  

A poll of 13 analysts anticipated the bank to increase its deposit rate to 17.75 percent and its lending rate to 18.75 percent.  


Egypt poised to announce detailed plan for state stake sales

Egypt poised to announce detailed plan for state stake sales
Updated 02 February 2023

Egypt poised to announce detailed plan for state stake sales

Egypt poised to announce detailed plan for state stake sales

CAIRO: Egypt's government aims to announce a detailed plan next week to offer stakes in at least 20 state companies over the coming year, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

An Egyptian plan to sell stakes in public companies, first announced more than five years ago, has gained new urgency since the Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered heavy foreign investment outflows from Egyptian financial markets and threw the economy into crisis.

Egypt in December agreed to a $3 billion rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund in expectation that the state withdraws from some non-strategic sectors of the economy to allow space for the private sector to grow.

"The whole goal is to increase the participation of citizens and the private sector in the development process and their management and participation in public institutions that have been owned by the state," Madbouly said, adding that a detailed plan should be in place after the next cabinet meeting.

The company offerings will be made over the course of a year, with some being sold on the stock exchange and others to strategic investors, Madbouly said.

"Large investors will also participate in restructuring and expanding production lines of the companies while also increasing their capital," he added.


Basra Oil Co. head expects Qatar to take 20-25% stake in TotalEnergies’ Iraq project 

Basra Oil Co. head expects Qatar to take 20-25% stake in TotalEnergies’ Iraq project 
Updated 02 February 2023

Basra Oil Co. head expects Qatar to take 20-25% stake in TotalEnergies’ Iraq project 

Basra Oil Co. head expects Qatar to take 20-25% stake in TotalEnergies’ Iraq project 

BASRA: The head of Iraq's Basra Oil Co. told Reuters on Wednesday that he expects Qatar to acquire a 20-25 percent stake in TotalEnergies' $27 billion cluster of energy projects in the country, with the Baghdad government aiming to hold around 40 percent. 

A major investment in the projects by a Gulf state would be an important win for Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani, who took office last October following more than a year of political turmoil. It would also be considered a step towards countering Iranian influence. 

"Qatar is one of the promising and developed countries in this regard...we determine our percentage as an Iraqi country, and the rest is for Total and QatarEnergy...I don't expect more than 20-25 percent, they are talking about 30 percent," said Bassem Abdul Karim, director general of state-run BOC, referring to Qatar's potential stake. 

"The important thing for us is to set our share...Iraq is talking about 40 percent." 

Talks are ongoing, Abdul Karim added. Sources told Reuters last week that Qatar was looking to acquire a stake of around 30 percent in the project. 

QatarEnergy and TotalEnergies did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Abdul Karim said he hopes that the contract with France's TotalEnergies — which was signed in 2021 and requires an initial investment of $10 billion to build four giant solar, gas, power and water projects in southern Iraq over 25 years — would be activated within three months. 

The deal had stalled amid disputes between Iraqi politicians over the terms of the deal, which have not been made public, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters early last year, although the oil ministry said it just "needed time". 

France and Iraq signed a treaty last month seeking to strengthen bilateral relations in anti-corruption, security, renewable energy and culture, while committing to the implementation of the TotalEnergies project. 

Separately, Abdul Karim said that Iraq’s oil production from its southern oilfields currently stands at 3.59 million barrels per day. 

 


Abu Dhabi's Borouge announces $400m cost savings drive; Q4 profit drops

Abu Dhabi's Borouge announces $400m cost savings drive; Q4 profit drops
Updated 02 February 2023

Abu Dhabi's Borouge announces $400m cost savings drive; Q4 profit drops

Abu Dhabi's Borouge announces $400m cost savings drive; Q4 profit drops

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi's Borouge announced a $400 million cost savings drive on Thursday to navigate inflation and supply chain disruptions, as it reported a 17 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit on pricing compression for polyethylene and polypropylene.

The program was introduced "in response to the prevailing market challenges and to sustain its competitive positioning," adding that its core markets, the Asia Pacific and the Middle East, remain stronger than in developed markets, the petrochemicals firm said in a statement.

The polyefins producer said the benefits of its program should mostly be felt in the second half of the year, offsetting anticipated market pressures, and expects the recent shifts in China's COVID policy to stimulate demand, but that would take some time to take effect.

"We will be looking at all levers," Chief Financial Officer Jan-Martin Nufer said in a post-earnings interview.

"We will need to look at all the cost areas, into logistics variable cost and conversion variable costs but also at the fixed costs."

Borouge reported a net profit of $247 million in the three months to Dec. 31 on a pro forma basis, down from $299 in the comparable period a year earlier, it said in a regulatory filing.

Borouge's board has mandated its executive management to actively explore growth opportunities through international expansion, the company said in the filing.

It also reiterated its commitment to pay $975 million in post-initial public offering dividends to shareholders for 2022, of which $325 million has already been paid, and at least $1.3 billion for 2023.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. and Austria's Borealis own a 54 percent and 36 percent stake in Borouge, respectively.