SIAL Middle East 2016 opens today

The professional trade exhibition for the food, drink and hospitality industries takes place over three days

SIAL Middle East takes place in Abu Dhabi.
SIAL Middle East takes place in Abu Dhabi.

Now in its seventh year, SIAL opens today at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and will run until Wednesday, December 9.

The professional trade exhibition for the food, drink and hospitality industries is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.

Global food innovation and trends impacting the F&B industry will headline the event, as pressure on the UAE’s food production capacity will see GCC food imports increase to over US $53.1 billion by 2020, according to research from Economic Intelligent Unit.

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An expanding population, an increase in tourism numbers, a lack of arable land and limited water resources contributing to the resulting shortfall.

Commenting on the importance of the exhibition for addressing food security issues, Thamer Al Qasemi, chairman of the organising committee of SIAL 2016, said: “Innovative international production processes, strategies and quality products have all been incorporated into SIAL 2016 to highlight how the supply and demand gap can be closed throughout the region, which has been exasperated by the growth in population, changing consumption demands, increasing income levels and adverse environmental changes."

New to the show this year are a series of niche conference sessions, focusing on the latest F&B trends.

New additions to this year’s La Cuisine competition, which attracted more than 650 competing chefs last year, includes the Alen Thong Golden Coffee Pot Young Chefs Challenge. The challenge has been launched in memory of one of the Emirates Culinary Guild’s founding fathers, and will see nine international culinary teams - each comprising five chefs - compete.

The 35th edition of The Mercurys, which is an awards ceremony for travel catering, will take place during SIAL in the evening of December 5 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat al Beri in Abu Dhabi.

Returning for a second successive year will be the Abu Dhabi Food Security Round Table series, organised in partnership with Food Security Centre – Abu Dhabi (FSCAD), where leading government officials, CEOs and industry experts will discuss and debate ways of ensuring the availability of affordable, sustainable and nutritious food for the region. Over 200 attendees are expected over two days.

Another popular annual feature, the SIAL Innovation World Champions, will showcase the 11 most innovative products from SIAL’s global events, while the SIAL Innovation Area will showcase the world’s most innovative products, providing a unique opportunity for attendees to learn about upcoming sector trends.

The popular Regional Barista & Latte Art Championships will return for a second year, highlighting the skills and knowledge of the region’s best coffee makers. The competition will welcome back more than 20 baristas with the winners announced on the final day of the exhibition.

Also returning for 2016 will be the World Tour exhibit, with displays by top food journalists from across the globe including editors from publications in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Poland, Russia, Spain, the UK and the US; and the eagerly awaited Regional Barista & Latte Art Championships featuring over 40 entrants.

According to Fadi Saad, director, SIAL 2016, the annual event has cemented itself as a must attend for exhibitors and visitors alike:

“We have seen exceptional growth in recent years. We have over 900 exhibitors confirmed, over 30 international pavilions, 500 hosted VIP buyers and are expecting more than 22,000 trade visitors to attend the three-day event. Last year the event secured deals worth AED3.7 billion, with the increase in exhibitors and visitors we look set to exceed this figure once more,” Saad commented.

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