Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 07 October 2022:
The third edition of the Future Food Forum, concluded yesterday highlighting the need for redefining regulations, consumer trends, crisis management and innovation in F&B safety and packaging, upcoming innovative ingredients, and brand building on social media.
The event was organised and hosted by the UAE Food & Beverage Manufacturers Business Group, presented by Food Tech Valley and in strategic partnership with Dubai Chamber and, welcomed over 60 F&B manufacturing thought leaders to deliberate on opportunities and challenges in achieving sustainability and food security, with a special networking session for FBMG women leaders.
Saleh Lootah, Chairman of the UAE Food & Beverage Manufacturers Business Group, said: “We are pleased to see the overwhelming support from the regulators and businesses, as we aim to deliberate strategies that can transform the nation’s food and beverage manufacturing sector by significantly increasing its contribution to the national economy. As a group, we are committed to working on enhancing the competitiveness of the UAE F&B sector and committed to supporting the National Food Security Strategy 2051.”
Moderating the first panel of the day, Dr. Hassan Bayrakdar, Founder and Managing Director, RAQAM Consultancy said: “Enhancing communication channels between regulators and the F&B industry, constant and coherent updates on policies, and frequent deliberations on existing challenges will be key in boosting the productivity of the sector. This will aid us to innovate for the future on a global scale instead of fixing challenges that are of the past, a proactive regulatory atmosphere will help us be prepared for very important changes in the sector.” The session also featured Omar Hisham, Business Development Manager, RAQAM Consultancy; Eng. Ali Rashid AlGhafri, Director, Food Standard and Conformity, Oman; Eng. Reem Mahmoud Alqaisi, Head of Food Standards and Quality Department, Jordan Food and Drug Administration; and Lucas Blaustein, Regional Agricultural Attaché, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Andrey Dvoychenkov, General Manager, NielsenIQ – Arabian Peninsula & Pakistan, highlighted how consumer lifestyle is changing as they make healthier choices, look for food that doesn’t affect the environment and their health, and are curious to try new products. The panel also hosted Igor Marti, Vice President MENAT, BRF; Manisha Juneja, Global Research Manager, Toluna UK; Sam Gill, Regional Manager – MENA, Meat & Livestock Australia; and Shahid Khan, CEO, Al Islami Foods, UAE; and was moderated by Ahmed Bayoumi, CEO, Global Food Industries, UAE.
Other panel discussions on the day focused on varied themes including – managing crises within the food and beverage supply chain, the future of food and beverage packaging, an overview into the world of exciting new ingredient technologies and innovations for healthier food, and the challenges of a new era in food safety in disrupted times.
A special FBMG Women Leaders Networking Session with female leaders in the sector who shared their experiences and at two back-to-back panels, which hosted – Melda Yasa Cebe, Managing Director MEA, Kraft Heinz; Amal Al Ahmadi, Head of Research and Development, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment UAE; Forough Ahmadi, Deputy CEO, NTDE, Samah Al Hajery, Director, Cooperatives and Strategic Reserve, Ministry of Economy; Jeanette Kristensen AL Haider, GM Emirates National Food; Marcela Sancho, Co-founder House of Pops, Dimple Tahiliani, Head of Operations, Arab India Spices; Disha Pagarani, Director of Sales & Marketing at Pure Food Processing Industries; and Yan Narayan, Director, Hunter Foods – who were honoured by the UAE Food & Beverage Manufacturers Business Group.
The panel hosting top influencers on how to plan F&B brands’ social strategies discusses why it is important to target audiences beyond the local market, use content in multiple languages, and engage with their audience by interacting with them promptly. The session was moderated by Saleh Lootah, Chairman of the F&B Manufacturers Business Group hosted influencers including Munthir Al Muzai Al Shamsi, Amal Ahmad, Mohammad AlBanna, and Abdullah Ismail.
Manisha Juneja, Market Research Lead-Middle East & Africa at Toluna, said: “The middle east region is experiencing a surge in the consumption of plant-based food and beverages, especially over the past few years. A study that we have recently conducted in UAE & KSA to understand how the plant-based category is shaping, revealed that more than half of the residents have either tried or have started consuming plant-based products in the past 6 months, compared to merely 9% of the population. Surprisingly 38% of those who consume plant-based products have claimed themselves to be flexitarians and no Vegetarians in UAE and the same is true for 30% of the consumers of plant-based products in KSA. The top three influencing factors in consumers’ minds include freshness, quality, and nutritional value. Accordingly, brands need to communicate more on these parameters to build trust, encourage brand trial and gain market share.”
Szymon Ulanowski, General Manager, Spyrax Sarco Middle East & North Africa (MENA), who attended the event said: “I commend the forum for highlighting the importance of efficiency during the food production process as a key part of achieving sustainability and product quality including their longevity, and even flavour, something we at Spirax Sarco provide to our end-users through our expertise and equipment. I am pleased to see the F&B dialogue going beyond the packaging and shelf life to discuss how each component on the factory floor impacts the safety and quality of products.”
The last programme on the day honoured young chefs and food influencers of Instagram, Maitha and Abdulrahman, as well as the forum chair, Sumeet Mathur for spearheading the Future Food Forum over three editions as chairman initiative to bring together the sector through the forum. Reflecting on the programme Sumeet Mathur said: “There was a lot of knowledge that was being shared on this stage by over 90 experts, more importantly, the chemistry between the participant and how connected to almost all topics being discussed, made this a must-attend event for the sector. Seeing the spirit of collaboration shown here, I believe we will go to a better future as an industry.”
Around 700 CEOs and government and regulatory delegates participated in the two-day event, which featured high-level keynote addresses, in-depth panel discussions, and fireside chat sessions driving diverse aspects of the F&B manufacturing value chain.