Gulfood post-mission report
18-22 February 2019
The world of food came together once again this year at the globally central Gulfood trade exhibition. Export-ready Australian food companies, big and small, had the chance to showcase their products and meet international buyers. These events are fundamental to creating new markets opportunities.
Gulfood has generated $US12.5 billion in food and beverage (F&B) commercial outcomes since its inception in 1987. The international trade show welcomes buyers from across the entire globe at the Dubai World Trade Centre, creating an incredible opportunity for businesses to showcase their products. FIAL attended this year and brought a cohort of Australian businesses along for the journey. FIAL’s stand was located in the Trade Centre Arena alongside Trade Victoria, Hort Innovation, and an array of high-calibre Australian companies.
Recent Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry analysis says consumer spending in the UAE is forecast to exceed $US261bn in 2021, with $US16.7bn spent on food products alone. The entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has emerged as a powerful spending economy with consumers having greater access to a wide range of foods and beverages. In fact, food imports make up 70% of the market in the Gulf region, which presents a significant opportunity for Australian F&B exporters. Austrade figures reveal food and agricultural exports to MENA from Australia are worth $3.9bn annually, bolstered by the 130 passenger flights each week to Dubai loaded with fresh produce, dairy and meat. Although the UAE’s open-trade policies ensure the market is highly competitive, Australian products are popular and we are considered a source for premium, safe, green and clean foods.
Of the 13 companies that made up FIAL’s delegation to Gulfood, five were from NSW, four from Western Australia, two from Queensland, and two from Victoria. This was fantastic representation from across the country.
The FIAL stand was nearly 20% bigger than in 2017 to accommodate on-going demand of businesses wanting to exhibit. The stand comprised sampling pods entirely, with representatives from each business choosing to be physically present to showcase their goods, rather than sending a selection of products for display only. Nearly 50% of the buyers connecting with FIAL’s delegation were from the UAE, with the remainder from Jordan, Kuwait, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other markets.
During the exhibition week, FIAL escorted 25 participants on a market and insights tour of five local retailers: Spinneys Motor City, Lulu Hypermarket, Choithrams, Al Maya and Pure South. The cohort was able to research competitors’ products and pricing and analyse store layouts and promotional tactics. Additionally, this tour provided participants with an opportunity to learn more about in-market trends within the regions from FIAL-elected experts.
From the insights learnt on the tour, it is clear there is a growing demand for healthier foods. Consumer preferences are shifting towards products with a high nutritional value. Additionally, there are considerable opportunities in the high-value processed food sector. A larger consumer base is embracing premium food products, and higher disposable incomes are fuelling a growing middle class.
To all the Australian exhibitors that attended FIAL’s Gulfood 2019, congratulations on your participation and hard work. It was an incredibly rewarding trade show and we look forward to Gulfood 2020.