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.