Event Review: Gulfood 2017

Caterer Middle East reveals the news, trends and product launches from the five-day event
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Gulfood 2017.
Gulfood 2017.

The 22nd edition of Gulfood took place from February 26 to March 2, attracting more than 95,000 visitors and 5,000 exhibitors across eight food sectors.

This year Gulfood featured 88 national pavilions with four countries — Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta and Somalia represented for the first time. India, Spain, Italy, the USA and China mounted the largest pavilions up against a host of regional country promotions most notably from Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan and Morocco.

GCC Market Expansion

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Regional expansion through franchising was a common occurrence amongst exhibitors. This was the case with Dubai-based HORECA and catering supplier Intelligent Foods which announced the launch of a new retail and franchising component.

Intelligent Foods primarily manufactures and supplies different varieties of freshly made pastas, breads, jams and chutneys. “We also have about 1,200 flavours of ice-cream, which will be launched to the public through our franchising concept Glow, at the Mercato Mall later this year,” said Intelligent Foods general manager James Le Gassick. “As it stands we supply to clients in the UAE and a little bit of Saudi Arabia, but this year we are going to Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.”

Coffee Planet is also pursuing franchise expansion as well as pushing its newly launched cold brew and nitro coffee, managing director Robert Jones told Caterer Middle East during Gulfood 2017. “Cold brew is growing in popularity overseas and Coffee Planet is starting to introduce it in the UAE. We are hoping to bring it to the market in quite a big way. It is something relatively new to our offer which we’re hoping to promote to our range of hospitality and HORECA clients,” Jones said. For HORECA clients, Jones stated that Coffee Planet will be providing the apparatus, set up and any necessary training.

Italian syrup and beverage manufacturer Orsa Drinks (ODK) made its regional debut. “We started exporting in 2009, and have previously approached this market. We ended up with Al Khayyat Investments LLC as our partner for this region,” said a representative of the company.

The company was founded in 1992 in Italy and was conceived as part of the “80’s slushy revolution that took place”. The range of products includes syrups, fruit presses and powders for frappes. “Our products cover the requests of bars from the first coffee in the morning to the last drink of the night,” the spokesperson said.

Given its international reach, many companies took the opportunity to debut new products at Gulfood 2017. DMK Consumer is embarking on a new multi-pronged branding strategy, launching a diverse product portfolio to include flavoured milk designed for children, lactose-free milk, vitamin D milk, as well as a barista milk for the foodservice sector. Apart from continuing to promote its premium brand, Oldenbuger, DMK is also focusing expansion efforts on Rose, its mainstream brand for the mid-market retail and foodservice sectors. “For Oldenburger, we are working on moving the perception of the consumer towards our added value product portfolio, especially in the GCC,” DMK marketing manager MENA FZE Daniel Deliano told Caterer Middle East.

Dawn Foods also introduced a new portfolio of 75 products across 13 different categories, aligning with four key food trends identified by internal company research — Eatertainment, Food Forum, 24/7 and Feel Great.

Highlighting the importance of the Middle East, director for MEA, Richard Schrama’s key message was: “‘Discover the taste of modern America’ through Dawn Foods because we have a heritage of almost 100 years, and a lot of knowledge on authentic recipes but with a constant focus on innovation, now with new, modern ingredients, better taste, more suitable to the market here in the region.”

Innovations

Jordanian food technologist and food production company owner Khaled Kasih celebrated a 15-year dream realised at Gulfood 2017 with the launch of a 100% natural and gluten-free hummus range that has a shelf life of up to 18 months. Kasih owns and runs Amman’s Kasih Food Production Co. and has developed the technology which now produces, what he claims is “the world’s only UHT aspetic hummus”. Kasih has secured international approval to sell his product with contracts in place with companies from Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Along with the ‘hummus-on-the-go’ snack pack, a larger catering version and long-life packs for home use are also available of the product. “The problem with hummus is that for years it has been treated with preservatives and even so only had a shelf life of two weeks. After that, there have been recalls. Now, caterers and family users can buy a product they can trust and will last.”.

Nestlé has also gone down the innovation route with the launch of its Cool Pro beverage dispenser. Speaking to Caterer Middle East, Nestlé Middle East FZE head of beverages Nestlé Professional Ahmad Popal said: “Cool Pro is a solution that allows you to dispense high quality fresh-tasting products at the push of a button. So drinks like lemonade and ice coffee that would typically require a lot of time and skill to prepare can now be served at high speed so it’s ideal for QSRs or pool bars. We provide the full solution which includes the machine, the product and the after sales service. So as an operator so never have to worry about delivering a beverage.”

More innovations came from Fabbri 1905. The Italian specialist producer of bases and ingredients for gelato, yoghurt and bakery products launched a line of animal-free ingredients for cakes and jams. “Some of the customers that we have follow a certain food consumption dictated by either a religious belief, such as halal food, or by a moral philosophy, such as vegan food,” declared Nicola Fabbri, a fourth-generation member of the company’s founding family who currently runs the company alongside three other family members.

He said: “Our newest innovations include our line of vegan ingredients, especially the vegan base to make a proper cake — meaning the sponge cake or the custard cake. This base substitutes all the other ingredients which have any kind of animal ingredient. This allows customers to have a fantastic Sacher Torte, for instance, but which is completely vegan. There is no difference in taste and quality and richness of the food.” Fabbri added: “It’s a growing niche everywhere and being a market leader, you always have to be one step ahead of the market demand, so we worked very heavily on this line.”

Wellness

More than a trend, the wellness sector is thriving and shows no signs of slowing down. Advantage Austria project manager — international trade fairs Franz Ernstbrunner said: “Our small and medium-sized companies are strong and they have new wellness, organic and health products and all different kinds of aspects including sugar-free and fat-free.”

When asked about the reason behind their growth despite the higher cost of the products, Ernstbrunner explained: “People like to have good products for their families and for their children. Maybe they spend more because our products are not cheap but the variety and the innovations are very good.”

Another country riding the wellness wave was Peru as the country reinforced its superfood credentials during Gulfood 2017 with the launch of its “Superfoods Peru” brand. The campaign celebrates Peru’s status as one of the world’s top producer of superfoods highlighting the quality, variety and benefits of the country’s food offering. Peru has a variety of agricultural produce that is synonymous with healthy living.

“Six years ago, when we opened the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru, it was so difficult for me to explain what quinoa was,” Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru director Alvaro Silva-Santisteban F. said. “However, with today’s consumers seeking healthier choices and new culinary experiences, we see strong export potential for Peruvian produce. Our government anticipates export volumes for superfoods will triple to US$15 billion in the medium term as a result of the campaign. We also expect to see up to 15% annual growth in cropland dedicated to superfoods,” he added.

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