In the lead-up to Gulfood 2010, organisers promised an offering bigger and better than ever before — and this year’s edition of the region’s largest F&B trade show did not disappoint

Gulfood 2010 faced a tough task, living up to expectations of a bigger, better show than ever before; but exhibitor and visitor responses indicate that this year’s edition was a huge success.

With multiple new elements and interactive initiatives introduced, as well as more exhibitors than ever before, the main challenge for companies was drawing visitor attention — but the majority rose to the occasion admirably.

Premium chocolate brand Valrhona’s consultant for the region, Gérard Hugon, explained: “We were there to show what chefs can do with our chocolate and offer support via recipes and suggestions, which we showcased with live cooking demonstrations.

“Gulfood is a very interesting exhibition for us,” he continued. “When we first came here, you had a lot of people from various countries wanting to import our products, but it was all one-way. Today we have partnerships with a whole range of amazing customers.”

Others conducting live demonstrations included Monin, which had professional baristas demonstrating the use of its innovative flavourings at the firm’s stand in Sheikh Maktoum Hall.

MEI beverage innovation director Tihomir Gergov noted: “We have premium products, but it’s more than that: we can offer a full flavourings solution for our customers. So this show is a key platform for showing customers exactly what we can offer them.”

Monin MEI sales and marketing director Jeremy Coulbeck added: “This year, we decided not to do anything around new product launches — it was really more about promoting the brand, focusing on coffee and soft drink applications.

“My one reservation is that I’m not sure if our spot was the right location for us,” he continued. “It was a decent space, but initially this hall seemed a bit quieter than other areas of the show. We may look for a more exposed site next year.”

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In Zabeel Hall, Koma Middle East general manager, commercial Marc Doublichevitch also felt that the number of visitors he hed seen “did not seem to be as large as the last few years”, but added that the quality of the clientele had been exceptionally high.

“We had less visitors, but more prospects,” he explained.

Doublichevitch had also seen extremely positive feedback regarding Koma’s latest product launch.

“For the Middle East, we have a new product coming online. It’s basically our H-Cabinet with a small modification, so that within one unit you can have a shock-freezing compartment, a freezing compartment and a fridge compartment,” he said.

“Even though this was unfortunately not quite ready for the show, we have had many enquries and a lot of interest about it.”

Advance Baking Concept (ABC) was also kept busy with enquiries — and was focusing on educating visitors about its fresh-from-frozen concept, explained commercial manager Masood Syed.

“To be honest, we have to educate the customer,” he said. “There are a lot of misconceptions about fresh-from-frozen, so we are fighting that stereotype and educating people about the reality of the product. But I have always believed the concept we offer is more cost-effective than what people do from scratch — and we are definitely seeing more people embracing this option since the downturn,” he continued.

“Formerly, when there was a lot of money to spend, people were setting up their own in-house bakeries: investing in the man power, the space, the machines and the raw ingredients.

“But we offer something simpler than that — all you need are freezers, an oven and a shelf trolley. That’s all that is required, so it is extremely efficient.”

Another firm making the most of the region’s booming bakery market was Baking Technologies — the company behind the GCC’s recently-launched Baking Guild, as well as Gulfood’s inaugural Baking Theatre.

Chairman Ton Seuren expanded: “We established the Baking Guild six months ago and have more than 400 members already.

“As a result, the theatre initiative was launched to show that the baking industry is a lively one and a complicated one, which is why we have master bakers demonstrating how it’s done.

“At next year’s Gulfood, we’re planning a major bakery competition for bakers and pastry chefs,” he revealed.