Anticipating silver lining ahead…..

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Sial has concluded on a high note. How well do you think this time the event has done, business-wise, in its sixth-edition?
The sixth edition of SIAL Middle East, the region’s fastest-growing professional trade exhibition for food, beverages and hospitality industry, was a resounding
Record attendance, record trade agreements, record number of international
pavilions and a record number of entrants for the innovation awards have together ensured SIAL Middle East goes from strength to strength.
The new-look line-up for 2015 covered the full spectrum of issues linked to
innovation and global food trends, including sustainable food consumption and organic trends, improving local sourcing, the rise of eat and tweet trends and an array of fresh approaches to reducing waste from micro to macro levels.

What segment of the sector do you think was most in attendance at the event — consumers, manufacturers or the market experts?
SIAL Middle East is part of SIAL Group, the world’s largest network of professional B2B food exhibitions in the world. The exhibition’s core aim is to match exhibitors from around the world with a range of buyers from this region and further afield. This year we have seen deals worth nearly AED4 billion, plus a record turnout of visitors and international pavilions.

What would you say were the four main outcomes of this year’s SIAL event?
The event focused on many key issues and global trends impacting the industry and provided expert insight from regional and international leaders who shared ground-breaking and innovative approaches, technologies, ingredients and business models across the entire food supply chain.
The innovation focus of this event ensured a range of trends were discussed,
including the global rise in meat consumption driven by rising populations, incomes and more urbanisation, concerns regarding the consumption of convenience foods, especially in countries such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states where busy lifestyles and increased demand for processed foodstuffs are impacting health and on the flip side, growing consumer demand for organic and/or locally produced foods that support the ‘clean eating’ movement and that have long term benefits for the next generation of consumer.
SIAL Middle East has become one of the region’s most important industry shows for the food and beverage sector. The show is of paramount strategic importance and creates a platform for discussion on hot industry topics such as food security and sustainability. Year after year, SIAL Middle East reinforces Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading trade hub for the Middle East, benefiting the economy by promoting investment and business on a large scale.

How would you say ‘innovation’ was
a main part of the event?
The UAE’s food production capacity is stymied by a lack of arable land, an
expanding population expected to reach 50 million by 2020, a booming tourism industry, increasing per capita income and limited water resources resulting in increased
dependency on imported food products.
A growing population, rising income levels and changing consumption patterns are increasing our dependence on imported goods.
In order to alleviate this trend, SIAL Middle East unveiled a new-look line-up with a focus on innovative strategy and
approaches for local producers to allow them to bridge the gap between supply and demand in the region. A solid foundation has ensured we are delivering a useful event.

Regional Barista Championship was one new addition this year, how well did it go?
A total of 20 regional barista competitors competed for the title of ‘Best Regional Barista 2015’, which was eventually won by Armiel Alkuino who won a cash prize of AED5,000 and the ‘Regional Latte Art 2015’ was won by Frederik Bejo.
The event was very well received and provided the opportunity for baristas from across the GCC to participate and show off their outstanding coffee preparation skills in association with the International Coffee and Tea Festival.

What should we expect SIAL 2016
to be like?
We will build on the success of this year, listen to feedback and reaffirm our position as the region’s fastest-growing professional trade exhibition for the food, beverages and hospitality industry.

A lot has been said and exhibited about organic farming this time. What are your views on that?
As highlighted by Monique Marez, Associate Director, International Trade, Organic Trade Association (OTA), during one of the many seminar sessions held during the exhibition, there is growing demand for organic products in the GCC.
Organic export from the United States to Abu Dhabi has increased by a whopping 346 percent from 2011 to 2014 and sales for first half 2015 have already surpassed total of 2014.
More and more customers are becoming aware of the benefits of organic and are making choices to incorporate organic products when possible. This of course is limited by available supply, however the organic customer is a loyal customer and does not often go back to conventional once the switch has been made.
There’s a wealth of research that supports this view. According to a 2014 report by Frost and Sullivan, it was outlined that organic farming in the GCC is set to reach US$1.5 billion by 2018 due to changing consumer tastes and habits.
The number of organic farms in the UAE has risen massively too, again highlighting the growing demand and
the opportunities available within the

Can you share figures about the number of visitors and the total revenue generated through this event?
Well, summing it up is very difficult because not only does SIAL aim to ellicit direct responses but in many ways it acted as a bridge between different stakeholders in the industry.
We are very happy with the whopping response. Trade agreements worth AED3.7 billion were signed and a record number of 21,500 trade visitors visited the exhibition.

Fadi Saad, Managing Director for Comexposium in Middle East. copy

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