SIAL Middle East 2012 has seen an 85% increase in visitor pre-registration. SIAL Middle East 2012 has seen an 85% increase in visitor pre-registration.

SIAL Middle East, the region’s fastest growing professional trade exhibition for the food, drink and hospitality industries, opens today at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and runs until Wednesday 28 November.

The three day exhibition, comprising of a number of conferences and which runs alongside Rice & Grains, ITCA Abu Dhabi and the Emirates International Date Palm Festival, has over 1000 exhibitors from 52 countries this year.

Mohammad Jalal Al Reyaysa, chairman of the Higher Organising Committee for SIAL Middle East and ADFCA official spokesperson, said: “The stage is now set for what must be one of the most important events of its kind in the regional calendar. Food security is a major issue throughout the MENA region and when combined with Abu Dhabi’s strategic location goes some way to explaining the massive interest shown in SIAL Middle East by all sectors of the food industry.”

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Awareness and anticipation of the event pushed pre-event registrations up by a dramatic 85% year-on-year with 6,000 visitors, across all industry sectors, signing up for the event.

Chris Fountain, managing director of Turret Media, organisers of SIAL Middle East, said: “This year’s event has been built on solid foundations from 2011, when 86% of exhibitors had already rebooked for 2012 prior to leaving the show, due in part I’m sure to the fact that US$ 350,000,000 worth of contracts were signed on site last year."

The three-day event includes an action-packed conference programme focusing on Private Label opportunities, a Food and Beverage Business Forum and Food Retail Forum, featuring panel discussions as well as a series of interactive workshop sessions.

Other highlights include the prestigious SIAL Innovation Awards, a global food accolade that forms an integral part of each international SIAL event, acknowledging groundbreaking products and product trends.

The country’s top culinary talent will also be showcased with 500 chefs taking part in the annual La Cuisine by SIAL cooking competition, now in its third year and organised by the Abu Dhabi chapter of the Emirates Culinary Guild. Chefs at all levels are given the chance to put their skills and creativity to the test across various categories, with performance judged by a panel of peers and industry experts approved by the World Association of Chefs' Societies.