DUBAI: The number of Pakistani companies participating in the Gulfood fair in Dubai this year has almost doubled compared to last year, according to a top Pakistani official in the UAE who said the event provided local companies an “important” opportunity to network and expand their outreach.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai World Trade Center Authority (DWTCA), opened the 27th edition of Gulfood on Sunday. Over 4,000 companies from 120 countries, a line-up of industry leading speakers, and the world’s best chefs are attending what is considered the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade exhibition.
This year the event will run from February 13-17 and opened with its most expansive exhibitor line-up yet, including new pavilions from the Norwegian seafood industry, Uruguay, Panama, and Uzbekistan who will be joined by newcomers from Australia, Colombia, South Africa, Switzerland, and Hong Kong.
Unique displays of food items, such as a woman wearing a hat made of fruits, and live cooking at food stalls, are major crowd pullers at the event.
This year, 93 Pakistani companies are taking part in the fair, a considerable increase from 50 firms last year, Hassan Afzal Khan, Consul General of Pakistan in the UAE, told Arab News.
“This is an important event for Pakistani companies to network,” Khan said, adding that food constituted one of the major exports of Pakistan to the UAE, one of the major food markets for Pakistani products.
“We are exhibiting the best quality products in rice, pulses, spices, confectionery, sweets and bakery items, herbal products as well as renowned and credible Pakistani food brands,” Khan said. “The response to the exhibits and Pakistani products has so far been good as mentioned by the exhibitors.”
Visitors to the event will be able to meet buyers looking to take orders for the latest and industry-defining products while exhibitors seek to draw customers looking to fill their order books at the year’s first global food and beverages gathering.
Bilal Ahmed, Manager International Sales and Marketing at Shangrila group, told Arab News the company, which has its headquarters in Karachi and specializes in a range of products from sauces to juices, had been participating in the exhibition for the past 20 years.
“This is a hub that helps us connect with the international markets and helps us in networking and building a corporate image for customers,” he said.
The Divisional Head of International Business for Bake Parlour, a well-established brand for pasta and sauces, Obaid Hasan, said this was the seventh year that the company was attending the exhibition: “We are always looking for new opportunities and to develop long-term relations with local distributors.”
Muhammed Yasin Iqbal, Head of Key Accounts and International Business for Tapal tea, said the company had been receiving positive feedback from visitors at their stall this year.
“This has been a good opportunity to connect once again with our existing customers while making new international connections,” he said.
Khalid Sarfraz Ghori, CEO Natco Foods Limited, Pakistan, which supplies a variety of rice domestically and internationally, said the company has been participating in the fair for the past 16 years.
“This has been an opportunity to make new partnerships,” he said.