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More than 5,000 international companies from 120 countries will gather for the event, hoping to strike up trade links with the 85,000-plus expected visitors. With a 20 year legacy, Gulfood continues to provide the best platform for F&B trade in the region, connecting suppliers and distributors from across the globe. And the team behind the event are putting on an extra special spread for 2016.

Sticking to this year’s slogan of ‘More Taste, More Trends and More Trade’, Gulfood 2016 welcomes four new countries into the fold: Russia, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Paraguay. The Russian arrival is of particular interest since the country is one of the world’s largest exporters of grain.

In a historic first, Gulfood 2016 will also host the ninth World Cezve/Ibrik Championship. It is the first time the competition for the centuries-old art of brewing coffee in a ‘Cezve’ or ‘Ibrik’ – the small, long-handled pot – will been held in the Arabian Gulf, the region it originates from. The UAE’s Karthikeyan Rajendran will battle reigning champion Italian Davide Berti for the coffee crown.

The competition continues with the annual Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire, a showcase of the region’s best culinary talent and expertise. More than 1,300 professional chefs and bakers will compete to become the regional best in class. Knives at the ready, chefs.

A Gulfood veteran himself, we check in with Exhibitions Director, Mark Napier, for a sneak peak of what to expect from February’s biggest F&B event.

How has Gulfood developed over the years?
In 1987 Gulfood had 65 exhibitors from 13 countries and 1,600 specialist trade visitors. For the 21st edition of the show in 2016 will welcome more than 5,000 local, regional and international companies from 120 countries and over 85,000 visitors from 170 countries – a considerable jump from 28 years ago.

With our largest ever European and South American participation already secured, Gulfood 2016 will feature four new country pavilions – from Russia, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Paraguay.

Why is Gulfood so important? What does it do for the industry here?
With one-event and year-round legacy trading running into billions of dollars, Gulfood connects nations and suppliers, opens distribution channels for industry-related business, and highlights Dubai’s strategic role as a key global food industry trading hub.

Ultimately, Gulfood gathers the global industry for a five-day mega event that continues to set the international agenda and position Dubai as a key player in the global food trade industry.

What’s new for Gulfood 2016?

Aside from the inclusion of the first ever Russian, Costa Rican, New Zealand and Paraguayan pavilions, Gulfood 2016 will also host the ninth World Cezve/Ibrik Championship, which is the ancient art of brewing coffee in a ‘Cezve’ or ‘Ibrik’ – the small, long-handled pot. The championship will be overseen by an independent judging panel that will rate baristas’ brewing skills on taste, presentation and technique.

Is there a theme surrounding this
year’s event?

The theme for Gulfood 2016 is ‘More Taste, More Trade and More Trend’ – we feel this underlines the overall Gulfood proposition. Trading is in the region’s DNA and Dubai’s developed logistics infrastructure and efficient customs service make it a cost-effective global gateway for foodstuff and food commodities trading.

What does this year’s Emirates Salon Culinaire have in store?
One of the region’s most eagerly awaited culinary competitions, the Emirates Culinary Guild Salon Culinaire is a series of practical and display-based culinary competitions that is open to professional chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers.

The five-day event will host over 1,300 chefs evaluated by a panel of 25 renowned experts, authorised by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) to judge culinary events across the globe, ensuring the highest competition standards.

Tell us a little about the Export
Advice Clinic.

The Export Advice Clinic is an independent set-up and knowledge sharing platform, where visitors can get impartial advice from market experts. Furthermore, key government, industry, trade authorities, consultants and market analysts are on hand to guide and inform on all aspects of the food industry including foodservice, import and export, meat and bakery.

How do you view the rise of other regional F&B trade shows? How can you remain the show of choice for exhibitors and visitors?
One of the reasons Gulfood is so highly-regarded internationally is our world-class global visitor profile, aided by our geo-strategic location. Over the last decade we have also accentuated the core Gulfood offering with the launch of various sector-specific spin-offs. The Gulfood umbrella now covers highly specialised trade events including Halal World Food, Gulfood Manufacturing, Speciality Food Festival, SEAFEX and Yummex – a resounding portfolio of diverse yet specialised industry events.

What does the Gulf need to do in order to become the global authority on F&B trade? What challenges do we need to overcome?
With its world-class trading and logistics infrastructure, prime geographic location, excellent safety and security record and a host of other benefits, I would actually spin this question around and say ‘what does the rest of the world need to do catch-up with Dubai in terms of F&B trade’? The answer, naturally, would be to visit Gulfood and find out.

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