Foodex Saudi 2014 gets underway in Jeddah
Four-day event sees exhibitors from around the world and parallel forum
Thousands of visitors at the Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events yesterday welcomed the second edition of Foodex Saudi, which was opened by HH Prince Khalid bin Saud bin Khalid bin Turki Al Saud, deputy chairman of the Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration.
Running until November 20, the event has attracted more than 400 brands from over 30 countries and is expected to see over 15,000 trade visitors and consumes attend over the four days.
Some of the exhibitors at the event, organised by Reed Sunaidi, have banded together as national pavilions, under the flags of countries such as Mexico, Pakistan and Italy.
Speaking to HotelierMiddleEast.com, Arturo Trejo, ambassador of Mexico to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, explained the importance of the event to businesses from his nation.
“Over the past ten years, our trade [with Saudi Arabia] has grown five-fold. Ten years ago we had around US $200 million, now we have over US $1 billion. We have exported many manufactured products, including automobile parts for cars and pick-up trucks.
“But we want to improve our export of food. We are already exporting honey and other items, but not in big volume.”
Running parallel to Foodex Saudi is the Saudi Food Forum, which will kick off in earnest today with sessions on opportunity and responsibility in the Saudi food sector, food security and changing taste and food trends.
Speakers will include Dr Ibrahim Alsini, dean of the Tourism Institute at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, and Saudi Arabian Chefs Association founder Yasser Jad.
Also running at the event over the coming days is the Saudi Chef Competition, encouraging encourages local chefs to compete on a spectrum of culinary talents, with the winners being determined by an international panel of industry professionals.
“We’d like to thank HH Prince Khalid bin Saud bin Khalid bin Turki Al Saud and the Ministry of Agriculture for their continued patronage and support of Foodex Saudi—we believe that there is no better time than now for these initiatives,” said Reed Sunaidi head of exhibitions Simon Blazeby.
“The Saudi food sector is expected to grow by 55.3% over the next few years, reaching $70 billion per annum. Being the largest consumer in the Gulf, the Kingdom’s food and agricultural commodities account for 15%, or $17.5 billion, of its imports, with agricultural imports projected to grow by as much as 76% by 2016.
“The exhibition provides a platform for local and international businesses to come together and further develop Saudi Arabia’s F&B industry.”