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Entries open for 2016 Gulfood awards

Gathering 5,000 food and beverage exhibitors from over 120 countries, the Gulfood show is billed as one of the world’s most important annual food and hospitality shows and an unrivalled chance to source and select from an incredible global product showcase.

Entries close on January 29 for the Gulfood Awards, which are designed to celebrate excellence and innovation across every category of the global food industry.
Now in their seventh successful year, the awards are being held as part of the Gulfood show, taking place at the iconic Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from Sunday February 21 to Thursday February 25, 2016.
The finalists and winners in the 2016 awards will be announced during a special gala dinner in Dubai on the first day of the show February, February 21.
The 22 award categories include:

  • Best new functional food or drink
  • Best new Halal food
  • Best new fast food product or innovation
  • Best new frozen or chilled food
  • Best artisan or local food
  • Best health education initiative
  • Best new foodservice innovation
  • Best environmental sustainability initiative
  • Best consumer marketing campaign
  • Best trade stand
  • Gulfood Outstanding achievement
  • Best foods company, and
  • Best newcomer brand or business

Gulfood show a global product showcase and trade platform

Gathering 5,000 food and beverage exhibitors from over 120 countries, the Gulfood show is billed as one of the world’s most important annual food and hospitality shows and an unrivalled chance to source and select from an incredible global product showcase. As one of the largest fairs in the Middle-East, it is very popular among importers and exporters of agro products and a crucial trade and business platform in a region with ever increasing demand – exhibitors and visitors from almost every country in the world meet at Gulfood to conduct cross-border business and establish international contacts in the trade arena.
Last year Gulfood attracted 84,642 total trade attendees, 64% of whom came from non-United Arab Emirates (UAE) countries, with a total of 156 countries covered, and 83% of visitors were looking to purchase within the next 6 months.
From specialty and fine food, to the widest range of organic food and drink, it is the opportunity to discover unique products from hundreds of specialist producers and over 110 international pavilions. Specialty areas covered are artisanal products, children’s products, ethnic food, fair trade, gift packs/hampers, gourmet & fine food, Halal products, health/wellness products, organic products, private label, ready meals and special diet products.

Safeguarding the UAE’s food security

The show venue, the Dubai World Trade Centre, is within the business hub of Dubai, the city which is itself a hospitality, trade and tourism hub for the Middle East. A majority of UAE imports are traded through Dubai, its biggest city.
And according to UAE Minister of Economy Sultan Al Mansouri, food imports into the UAE – which buys in 85% of its food – are poised to rise from $100 billion (Dh367 billion) in 2014 to $400 billion in the next decade. Due to the lack of arable lands in the UAE, the government plans to develop farmland in other countries to help to secure food supplies amid increasing demand and it is also urging diversification of the sources of imported food so as to hedge against any crisis.
The UAE has already invested in agro-food initiatives in Namibia, South Africa and in several Arab countries including, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan and Egypt, Al Mansouri said.
Within the wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – food consumption is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.5% between 2014-2019 to reach 51.9 million tons by 2019 and food retail in the GCC is forecast to be worth $155 billion by 2018.

Gulfood 2016

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Jebal, the renowned quality from Morocco

This year, Jebal became the number one importer of Moroccan fresh fruit and vegetables into the GCC countries.

This year, Jebal became the number one importer of Moroccan fresh fruit and vegetables into the GCC countries.

“We have enjoyed a 70% jump in Moroccan produce this season, with a huge market awareness of it,” confirmed Driss Dehbi, co-founder and CEO of Jebal. “In the past few years Morocco was considered more as just a gap filler in the market.” But he said that now the country has become a major supplier, in particular for tomatoes and vegetables, with continuous and growing volumes over the full season. Other regions of origin are South America, North America, Europe and Australia.“Quality is more important than price, and the Middle Eastern distributors are giving more and more preference to Moroccan produce nowadays.”

Tomatoes are the main product imported in the UAE. They are appreciated for their good quality and affordable price. “We are supplying 100 to 120 tons per week of tomatoes from Morocco, imported by air.” Citrus fruit is the second top category imported, followed by mixed fruit and vegetables. Jebal supplies the different market segments of the Gulf, from wholesale markets to modern retailers (like Carrefour, Union, and Aswaq), as well as re-export channels and its own specialty stores in Abu Dhabi. 

 Hamad Al Art and Driss Dehbi

Developments in other food divisions

Jebal’s CEO confirmed the firm’s expansion in other areas of the perishable food business, as it boasts its own large cooling facilities. Jebal also distributes red meat, frozen chicken, seafood and processed fruit and vegetables, as well as other grocery items like juices and confectionery. “The food service sector in the UAE is indeed expanding, with food channels becoming more structured,” Dehbi said. He confirmed that the level of quality demanded by the market is gradually improving. Jebal is also investing in Morocco, in packing operations. “Our goal is to have direct relations with the growers and improve the efficiency of the supply chain,” he said. Jebal complies with the HACCP food security standard and is pushing hard for local authorities to establish import standards. “Currently there are no obligatory standards for fresh produce coming onto the market,” Hamad Al Art and Driss Dehbi Dehbi said. He believes produce not complying with such standards should not be allowed to enter the country.


This interview first appeared on page 49 of edition 139 (Sept/Oct 2015) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more of that issue online by clicking on the image of it here:


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Spinneys, the Premier Supermarket Retailer in the Middle East, Joins GLOBALG.A.P. as a Member

Spinneys, the Premier Supermarket Retailer in the Middle East, Joins GLOBALG.A.P. as a Member.

Fine Fare Food Market LLC, which operates Spinneys, the premium supermarket retailer in the Middle East, has become the first in the region to join GLOBALG.A.P. as a retail member. This is in line with the company’s strategic decision to support a sustainable sourcing policy in order to benefit their farming partners, the environment, and their customers.

The company operates hypermarkets and supermarkets in Qatar, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and, through a franchise agreement, 30 stores in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). GLOBALG.A.P. Membership confirms the company’s commitment to supporting initiatives that assure sustainable and safe products for consumers.

By December 2015, Spinneys UAE plans to import only GLOBALG.A.P. certified fruits and vegetables from South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya, and Europe. In 2016, the retailer will expand its sourcing policy and work with producers from other countries, including Sri Lanka, Australia and USA, to help them achieve GLOBALG.A.P. Certification.

“We welcome Spinneys as a member in our GLOBALG.A.P. Community,” said Kristian Moeller, CEO of GLOBALG.A.P. “This move will make GLOBALG.A.P. certified produce available also to consumers in the Middle East ‎and opens up a very interesting market for certified producers.”

First established in 1924 by Arthur Spinneys in the suburbs of Alexandria Egypt, Spinneys sold high quality fresh produce, grocery, and baked goods at a fair price and in a fresh and friendly shopping environment. By 1960, it had grown into a chain and succeeded in opening additional retail outlets in Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan and supplying food for petrol exploration teams across the Gulf region.

Spinneys opened its doors in Lebanon’s old Beirut Souks in 1948, followed by additional stores in various parts of the country in the 1970s, but unfortunately the stores closed due to the civil war at that time. Thirty years later, Spinneys pioneered the concept of a hypermarket in Lebanon and re-opened its doors in 1998 through one big store and seven other standalone outlets, in addition to regional expansion in the Middle East.

Spinneys was ranked one of the world’s 50 best grocers by UK based retail magazine The Grocer in 2013.

source: GLOBALG.A.P. media release

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The GCC grows as a consumer hub


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone comprises 200 different nationalities living harmoniously.

The UAE as a business hub of the East and West mainly depends on imports of most goods including fruit and vegetables. Major amounts of these are imported from India as well as from the USA, Australia and other countries.

A Dubai university study analysed the various stimuli influencing purchasers based on a model created by the authors, comprised 487 samples from various nationalities who gave their unbiased opinion and the data was collected from April 2011 to December 2012. 50% of the UAE population is from Asian countries of which the majority are Indians. The results indicated purchase patterns and retailer evaluation differed between open shelf and packaged and was labelled depending on culture, age, family status and demographic profile.

The survey was taken from the standpoint that there are no local citizens only global citizens and that Indian retail of fruits and vegetables has changed in the last couple of years, following the global pattern, with companies such as Reliance working alongside traditional markets. The results indicate consumer preference and expectations from retailers which will be highly significant to managers.

The increasing number of tourists and employees from multinational companies are a different segment for retail consideration. The traditional retailers will also have to compete at new levels to capture the market of the young, savvy, variety seeking and knowledgeable consumer with a time constraint. These recommendations will pave the way for importers and retailers to gain a competitive edge.


Read more news from the Mediterranean & Middle East here on pages 34-41 of edition 136 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. 

Image: “Persian Gulf Arab States english” Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons  






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Turkish farm exports still surging



Turkey’s exports of fruit increased by a third and vegetables by 9% in the four years to 2013, according to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

The country is now a major exporter of agricultural products, both to the Middle East and other markets, it said in its report “Turkish Agricultural Exports Continue to Surge“.

Turkey’s farm exports have tripled in the last decade and were valued at more than $16 billion in 2013. It now comes after only India, China and Ukraine in terms of the highest export growth rates among the world’s top 20 agricultural exporters.

Middle East a major motor for Turkey’s export growth

Although the EU-28 remains Turkey’s largest export market, nearly all of Turkey’s growth in trade has been to developing countries, especially those in the Middle East, FAS said.

Iraq: In 2013, nearly a quarter of Turkey’s agricultural exports went to Iraq. Exports there more than doubled in just three years – from $1.5 billion in 2010 to $3.5 billion in 2013 – led by vegetable oil, flour, poultry and chicken eggs.

Syria: The turmoil in Syria has also increased its import demand. Turkish agricultural exports to Syria quadrupled in 2013, and rose another 50% in the first half of 2014.

Russia: Turkish exports to Russia, in particular, have been strengthening and could increase even more this year in light of Russia’s year-long ban on a wide range of agricultural products from the EU, United States, Canada, Australia, and Norway.

Africa: Turkish exports to Sub-Saharan Africa have also skyrocketed.

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Turkey exports via usda 181214.png

Read the report here.