Gulfood 2022, will herald a huge new business generation as producers and retailers look to harness a wave of opportunities emerging from massively evolving consumer buying behaviour.
With the industry already navigating new-age technology production and distribution trends, consumer power is now forcing industry players worldwide to radically innovate to meet their increasing demand for products and services that will aid sustainability and public health and drive down the sector’s carbon footprint.
The show, now in its 27th year, will span 21 Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) halls for a five-day run from 13-17 February, bringing the industry together to chart a better future as it strives to curb waste, improve ingredient provenance, refine packaging, meet sustainability goals, and prove itself as a responsible and responsive eco-system.
Sustainability is increasingly the priority
A new Gulfood industry report, commissioned by show organiser DWTC and produced by Mintel, reinforces this sentiment, stating that consumers are now dictating terms and influencing the sector’s future.
“Consumers are more aware of the urgency for climate action and want to believe they can make a difference,” states the report. In Mintel’s own sustainability barometer, global consumers have highlighted climate change as their top environmental concern and confirm it will impact their food choice.
In recent years, interest in renewable energy has been growing rapidly as a way to reduce carbon footprint, especially in food processing. The rising interest in clean energy from food manufacturers is also linked to the dwindling cost of renewables. According to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, affordable and clean energy "is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today".
Large companies like Bimbo Bakeries pledged to reduce their carbon footprint by using 100% renewable electrical energy by 2025, and Barilla is also committed to offsetting carbon emissions by promoting the use of renewable energy. Similarly, brands in the Middle East are starting to embrace and take a leading role in the journey towards a more sustainable society.
“Brands will need to simplify choices for consumers by making products that have lower carbon impact but also communicate their impact in a straightforward yet comprehensive manner. Two thirds of consumers surveyed globally by the Carbon Trust support carbon labelling on products,” added the report.
The recharged sustainability focus will require a huge shift in the way producers and retailers run businesses and interact with their customers.
In a second report on ‘Next-level sustainability in animal foods,’ Mintel points to a growing importance among consumers around regenerative agriculture, carbon reduction and zero waste as consumers seek eco and animal-conscious products. It all adds up to a combination of issues demanding urgent attention in an industry reeling with power shifts and beset by challenges that leading names in the business are ready to onboard. Also, according to Mintel sustainable packaging continues to be top-of-mind with consumers. This is, in part, because the concept is easy to understand and is often explained on the pack. For next-level sustainability claims to make a difference in consumer behaviours, brands will need to bring these concepts to life with greater detail and storytelling.
The 2022 edition of Gulfood is poised to act as a springboard for some of the latest innovations in sustainable packaging and carbon zero food products.
“The key trend for the industry in the years to come, will be to deliver on a growing demand for healthy and sustainable food,” said Ørjan Kjærvik Olsen of the Norwegian Seafood Council.
Austria’s backaldrin says it will actively be seeking positive alliances and leadership roles at Gulfood 2022.
“The event will be a watershed,” said company spokesperson Wolfgang Mayer. “This is the industry’s decisive moment to demonstrate conclusively that it has read the consumer sentiment wisely and is ready to take the issues on board. Sustainability is a growing concern worldwide and we have been committed to sustainability for many years. Areas where significant reductions have already been achieved are packaging and fuel reduction of the company's own fleet. Many resources are also being used to develop viable solutions in the areas of energy-saving or greening.”
Running alongside the main exhibition, the all-new Gulfood Inspire Conference will take a deep dive into pressing global industry topics and trends that matter across four days of high-profile discussions featuring F&B business leaders, ministers, policymakers, retail heads, technologists, agriculturists, analysts & futurists, from 13 – 17 February.
Looking at sustainable farming will be Ocean Harvest’s co-founders Haytham Shansal and Robert Kapustas. Titled ‘Off the Hook: Salmon Fishing in the Desert’, the session will look at the journey to a breakthrough land-based aquaculture salmon producing method that’s fresher, cleaner and far more sustainable than imports, saving 30,000 tonnes of carbon a year.
Featuring a host of high-calibre industry decision-makers taking the stage are Hon. Peter Gatirau Munya, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries & Cooperative, Kenya; and Hon Silvio Schembri, Minister for Economy, Investment and Small Businesses, Malta, underlining how to supercharge recovery for the post-pandemic F&B Supply Chain on day one of the conference.
Another one of the many sessions that will pave the way for the F&B industry is ‘Cloud, Virtual and Alternative Kitchens – Optimising Profitability: Viable Business Models and E-Commerce Partnerships’ will be delivered by Ziad Kamel, VP – Consumer, Kitopi and Tapan Vadya, CEO (UAE), Papa John's on day two.
DWTC has read the sentiment and responded by exposing the issues to debate in the Gulfood conference and industry talks programme and by introducing the event’s global campaign with the launch of Gulfood Zero Waste in partnership with restaurants and hotels.
Gulfood 2022 will reinforce the event as the global sector’s undisputed transformation powerbroker.
Gulfood 2022 has its most expansive exhibitor line-up yet including new pavilions from the Norwegian seafood industry, Uruguay, Panama, and Uzbekistan who will be joined by newcomers from Australia, Colombia, South Africa, Switzerland, and Hong Kong.