Gulfood 2020: The highlights

The 25th edition of the region's largest F&B trade show saw some of the world's finest vendors come together to push the industry into the future

Gulfood 2020 takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from February 16 to 20
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Gulfood 2020 takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from February 16 to 20

As Gulfood enters its final day, Hotelier Middle East looks back on the biggest players at the exhibition, the key announcements and the most innovative unveilings. The show this year had a focus on sustainability, environmentalism, meat alternatives and other measures to positively impact our planet.

Ingredia at Gulfood 2020 

France-based dairy goods manufacturer Ingredia showed off its Prospérité technology.

The Prospérité initiative allows buyers to track the steps taken before their milk arrives on shelves.

A QR code is placed on each container of ultra-high-temperature processing (UHT) milk, which when scanned will show a GMO-free guarantee, the minimum surface area given to each cow, the minimum grazing period given and a guarantee the product is from France.

Implementing this traceable technology, Ingredia can also set a minimum price for its products and ensure this is upheld globally.

CSO Italy eyed expansion in MENA

Italy’s leading fruits and vegetable suppliers convened at Gulfood 2020, led by industry cooperative CSO Italy.

Italian companies including Mazzoni, Oranfrizer and Conserve Italia showed visitors a range of products including fruit purees, oranges, lemons, mandarins and tomatoes.

Mazzoni produces semi-processed purees for pastry and ice cream shops. Currently, it has a focus on developing technology which negates the need for artificial colouring and preservatives. During Gulfood, the company showed off its mango, strawberry, peach, lime and mandarin flavours.

Meanwhile, producer and distributor Oranfrizer highlighted its range of fresh juices. Finally, Conserve Italia gave out taste tests of peeled plum tomatoes.

According to statistics from CSO Italy, Italian fruits and vegetables production increased by 55% between 2017 and 2018, growing from 23.31 tonnes to 36.165 tonnes.

Taiwan goes 100% halal at Gulfood 2020

Led by Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Economic Affair and Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), 20 Taiwanese vendors entered Gulfood meeting all halal regulations.

Exhibitors include King Car Food with Mr. Brown can coffee, Chi Mei Frozen Food, Royal Family with mochi and Young Sun Frozen with edamame.

Food products at the Taiwan Pavillion included biscuits, seafood, popcorn, dressings, frozen food, vacuum fried fruit, vegetables, rice, tea, edamame and coffee.

Though a non-Muslim country, Taiwan has been developing its halal food industry in recent years to appeal to a wider set of demographics from around the world.

State of Victoria brings 40 suppliers to the show

Australia’s largest food and fibre exporter, the State of Victoria, entered Gulfood with a delegation of 40 suppliers.

The suppliers were at the exhibition to show the quality of dairy, meat and prepared food products from the Australian state, as well as scout out potential buyers from the MENA region.

The Victorian Government Stand featured a number of brands highlighting the state’s global food innovation efforts. The State of Victoria made up more than half of the total Australian representation at Gulfood, with staff from the trade and investment team present to help bring in business.

The State of Victoria said in a release that Victorian exports in the industry to the MENA region are valued at more than A$1 billion in 2018/19. Lamb exports to Kuwait grew by A$19 million last year, while the UAE imports more than A$339 million worth of food and fibre from the state.

Upfield pushed plant-based products 

Plant-based packaged goods leader Upfield stepped into Gulfood 2020 showing its updated portfolio of plant-based products and dairy free products.

Catering to the growing number of environmentally-aware consumers, Upfield highlighted items such as dairy free, plant-based Flora Plant Butter, Flora Plant Cream and Flora Portion Packs.

Other unveilings included Flora Frying Solution, Flora Corn Oil and Atlis Olive Oil. Plant-based items were later used for live cooking demostrations.

Beyond its product showcases, the company held panel discussions shedding light on the health benefits of plant-based diets and sustainable meal choices.

Top Italian chefs convened at Gulfood to promote sustainability

As part of its participation at Gulfood 2020, the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) brought together some of the country’s top chefs to promote cooking with sustainably-sourced ingredients.

The ITAlian Food Lab this year showcased the benefits of a traditional Mediterranean diet. Chefs involved include Giorgio Minnone, Andrea Brugnetti, Giacomo Gallina, Alfredo Albergatore, Francesco Bucca, Salvo Sardo, Davide Gardini and Matteo Mirandola.

Over the course of the exhibition, the chefs were preparing dishes such as cappellacci with truffles, red pumpkin risotto, paccheri eggplants, basil and buffalo mozzarella, turbot fish in topinambur raw olive oil, gluten free pasta with zucchini, pine nuts and cheese.

Italy is a leading force in F&B exportation, as ITA noted, the country exports close to US$50 billion worth of food products each year.

Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium looked to increase its market share in Gulf region

The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium debuted as Gulfood this year, hoping to increase its market share in the Gulf and educate locals on authentic Parmigiano Reggiano.

According to research commissioned by the Consortium, the majority of consumers in the region confused Consortium certified parmesan with generic parmesan.

Across the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, only 30% of the market belongs to Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium certified cheese, while the other 70% is across generic parmesan brands.

The Consortium’s participation at the UAE’s Gulfood feeds into a three-year plan to increase the market share in the region. Other projects an advertising campaign in KSA, UAE and Kuwait.

Founded in 1901, the Consortium is a trade union to authenticate the origin of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, only cheese wheels marked with the Parmigiano Reggiano sign are considered authentic parmesan by the Consortium, acknowledged for their traditional production methods.

Fresh Blends showcased automated technology at Gulfood 2020


Blended and dispensed drinks company Fresh Blends went to Gulfood 2020 showing its automated, self-service smoothie machine.

The Fresh Blender integrates refrigeration, ice making, blending, dispensing and a digital interface for users to interact with.

The machine is capable of preparing customised smoothies, shakes and frappes in under two minutes according to Fresh Blends. More than 30 choices are available to users, including chocolate shakes, iced coffees, frozen lemonades and fruit smoothies.

Utilising cloud technology, the machine collects real-time data, while analysing sales and understanding consumer patterns. Fresh Blends can use this information to track marketing activities and help steer business in the right direction.

Located at the TSSC Kitchen & Laundry Equipment Trading stand, the Fresh Blender is able to prepare hundreds of beverages each day.

Oasis unveiled a plastic bottle alternative at Gulfood

Oasis, a brand within UAE-based National Food Products Company (NFPC) unveiled its own water bottle solution at the first day of Gulfood 2020.

Presented in Tetra Pak carbon packaging, Oasis explained it is the first beverage brand in the region to offer water in this packaging format. The main material in the packaging is cardboard sourced from trees which are replaced with newly-planted trees on usage. It added the material used has "a wealth of biodegradable and recyclable properties."

NFPC, which supplies more than 50% of all water, juice and snacking needs in the UAE, revealed it has reduced the amount of plastic in its 500ml bottles by 45%.

Healthy Farm promoted veganisim

Healthy Farm, the frozen food brand under the Albatha Group, used Gulfood 2020 to showcase its potential as a leading figure in the vegan F&B industry.

The brand has plans to convert more than half a million people towards it plant-based food offerings. It will use the five-day event to promote products such as plant protein pea kale and quinoa made into burger patties, meatballs, kebabs, mince and chunks.

Beauvallet introduced a new meat brand

Meat manufacturer Beauvallet joined Gulfood 2020 with plans to unveil a new meat brand to the Middle Eastern market.

Specialising in the selection, processing, cutting and packaging of high-quality French meat, the company offers beef, young cattle, lamb and offal of these species.

For the occasion of Gulfood, its Or Rouge brand was introduced. Or Rouge is a meat brand offering high-end French Limousin cattle breed meat which is also certified halal.

The managers of the Halal Food Quality certification answered questions on February 18 at the exhibition, which will followed by Beauvallet handing out meat samples to visitors.

Beyond its halal certification, Or Rouge products are traceable via a NFC chip on the label, the scanning of which will show the origins of the farm and the animal.

NZMP had a multi-product showcase at Gulfood 2020

NZMP planned a multi-product showcase at the expo, showcasing a number of its ingredients and insights in the snacking industry.

Ingredients and solutions on display included: snack concepts such as protein bars, balls and brownies made with NZMP protein, high protein drinking yoghurt high protein, flavoured milk, NVMP protein+ instant milk powder that provides 25% more protein per serve and a number of cheeses.

Other plans were showing the potential for protein-fortified dairy products in the region, along with providing F&B manufacturers with insight on the future of the industry.

The company addressed it wanted to capitalise on the growing snacking industry in the region, which it cites will be worth US$58.6 million by 2024.

UAE companies win big at Gulfood Innovation Awards 2020

UAE-based companies excelled at the recent Gulfood Innovation Awards 2020, together taking home awards in seven of the 12 categories.

Part of the 25th Gulfood exhibition, the awards recognised “F&B breakthroughs” across a wide selection of brands and products.

According to Gulfood, there were more than 500 entries for the awards this year.

Winning the award for the ‘Most Innovative Hot Beverage’ was IFFCO, the UAE-based multi-food products group, for its Karak chai camel milk.

IFFCO CEO Digvijay Sharma said: “Our Karak chai has proven very popular and we hope our camel milk variant will have the same success, especially now it’s won a prestigious Gulfood Innovation Award. We believe our product range appeals to local and regional consumers and we look forward to bringing out more innovative products in-line with our regional expansion.”

Following IFFCO was Global Food Industries winning two awards, its protein pea, quinoa and kale burger won the company the ‘Most Innovative Halal Food’ accolade. Meanwhile, its chicken, quinoa and kale burger earnt the company the ‘Most Innovative Meat or Poultry Product’ award.

Global Food Industries CEO Jacek Plewa shared: “These awards underline the outstanding efforts of our team over the last five years. Winning two awards highlight that we are on the right track with our product range and that we are responding to the changing needs of modern consumers.”

Foodservice distributor Bidfood Middle East received the ‘Most Innovative Frozen or Chilled Food’ award for its Haagen-Dazs Barista Line. While the country’s New Country Healthcare was given the ‘Best New Product Development’ and ‘Most Innovative Baked Product’ awards.

Bidfood Middle East regional sales manager, food services Wissam Menkara stated: “We are always looking to offer unique flavors and ingredient to our customers, and we are committed to offering innovative products that distinguish us from competitors in a competitive market category.”

New Country Healthcare MD Dr. Nael Al Koudsi concluded: “Winning two Gulfood Innovation Awards evidences our mission to bring new and healthy products to the UAE and GCC market. We strive to be as innovative as possible and these awards encourage us to believe that the sky is the limit.”

Gulfood 2020 runs from February 16 until February 20, taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

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