Top food trade expo opens in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, November 26, 2012
SIAL Middle East, the region’s fastest growing professional trade exhibition for the food, drink and hospitality industries, opened today (November 26) in Abu Dhabi and will runs until Wednesday showcasing products from 1,000 exhibitors across the globe.
Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), officially inaugurated the third edition of expo in the presence of Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
Held in strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), the three-day event occupies eight halls at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Speaking at the launch, ADFCA director general Rashid Mohamed Al Shariqi said, “SIAL Middle East has accomplished much in its first and second editions. This year, the number of participants increased to include more than 1,000 food companies from 52 countries. This is in addition to the innovative products on display and the quantum of business deals expected to be struck during the event."
Describing SIAL Middle East as a significant regional business event, Al Shariqi said, “Abu Dhabi aims through hosting this event at widening the scope of food businesses across the region. Abu Dhabi is offering through the event a wonderful opportunity for companies to access the dynamic markets across the Mena, besides South and South East Asia."
"The superior food safety infrastructure that ADFCA put in place as well as the standards and specifications in vogue are comparable to the best anywhere in the world. This has created a congenial atmosphere for investments in the food sector in the emirate," he noted.
ADFCA director general pointed out that the expo had provided food suppliers an ideal opportunity to learn from the best international experiences.
“Events such as SIAL and their success will go a long way in strengthening the country’s efforts towards improving the food security situation in the UAE and guaranteeing that all citizens and residents have access to sufficient and safe food,” he added.
Running alongside the exhibition, the SIAL Middle East conference opened with a keynote panel discussion on private label sector growth potential for the GCC region, which currently stands at just 3 per cent compared to over 35 per cent in Europe and 20 per cent in the US.
“Brands are big business for the region, across all market sectors, and with consumers becoming increasingly selective, the growth of private labels in the food industry is a logical next step for local and international retailers - and SIAL Middle East is the ideal platform to translate ideas into action,” said Chris Fountain, the managing director of Turret Media, the event organisers.
Moderated by Koen de Jong, Director, International Private Label Consult, panelists Maurice van Vliet, CEO of Netherlands-based consultancy privatelabeltrader.com, and Victoria Hassani, MD, Global Market Access ME, painted a realistic picture of the challenges and opportunities for local and international Gulf retailers.
“Private label brands have been around since the early 1900s. It’s not just a question of producing a quality product; this needs to be supported by sophistication in terms of packaging, and investment in marketing and promotional strategies in order to drive consumer confidence,” said van Vliet.
“If you take Carrefour as an example, to support its private label activity in China, the company partnered with a high profile Chinese basketball player, who’d played in the US’ NBA, to headline its marketing activity,” he added.
“The consolidation of retail in the region has seen local players such as Lulu and Panda rise to the top to take on international retailers like Spinneys and Carrefour, and it makes good business sense to move forward and develop private label ranges,” remarked Hassani.
“With no monolithic consumer base with shared culture and culinary tastes, a major challenge is to position private label as a brand and market it as such, not merely as an adjunct or afterthought. There is also a need for systems and procedures - such as category management and just-in-time controls - to be adopted, as growth to date has been organic rather than structured,” she added.
Visitors to the event this year are expected to hit the 15,000 mark across all four exhibitions, which - for the first time – include the relocated Rice & Grains showcase, Emirates International Date Festival, and the International Travel Catering Association (ITCA) event.
The venue will play host to exhibitors from 52 countries, This year’s country of honour, US has 17 exhibitors, participating at a time when US food exports to the GCC last year reached record levels valued at $2.8 billion, with the UAE accounting for almost 36 per cent of those exports.
The three-day event includes an action-packed conference programme focusing on Private Label opportunities, a Food & Beverage Business Forum and Food Retail Forum, featuring high profile panel discussions as well as a series of interactive workshop sessions.-TradeArabia News Service