Gulfood 2022 - The First Zero Waste Edition And With A High Focus On Industry Transition

4 Mar 2022

The 27th edition of Gulfood served as the F&B industry’s first live, in-person trade fair for 2022. It occurred between 13.02.2022 and 17.02.2022 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). The DWTC had strict Covid-19 safety measures in place to ensure a safe business environment. Among them were mandatory online registration and social distancing. The event served as a vital sourcing trade show. It debuted many new events and products. Such included competitions such as YouthX and new products. Gulfood 2022 featured over 4000 participating companies. It incorporated a five-day event schedule with a strong focus on industry transition. This included e-commerce, agritech breakthroughs, Zero Waste and youth empowerment. The event presented many networking and learning opportunities. Such included meeting with over 150 speakers, such as global leaders and policymakers. Furthermore, attendees could network with more than 100 Michelin-starred chefs. According to participants, the edition was quite successful. It further continued the trend set by Gulfood 2021.

The 27th rendition of the trade fair was the food and beverage industry’s first 2022 in-person event. It occurred between 13.02.2022 and 17.02.2022 at the Dubai World Trade Centre or DWTC. The venue featured a strict and proven Covid-19 safety plan. This included attendees needing to register online. Further, they had to wear masks in indoor locations and maintain a 2-metre social distance. Furthermore, participants had to print their badges at home after registration. Many areas provided badge holders and lanyards in individual packages to avoid infections. Disinfectant dispensers were also available in locations like the exhibition halls and restrooms. Organisers monitored crowd density and venue capacity in real-time. Several areas of the DWTC underwent changes to aid in maintaining social distancing. Examples included aisles being expanded to have a width of 2.5 metres. Also, the exhibition halls were reconfigured. Exhibitors also had to adhere to various regulations. Such as providing hand sanitisers and gloves to all visitors wishing to sample food. The sampling areas further had to have understandable signs about the available capacity.

Gulfood 2022 featured an intense and industry-transition-focused five-day programme. The event’s inauguration took place during the first days. This was courtesy of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The inauguration marked the beginning of the event, which included many new sub-events. It also placed a high focus on transitioning the F&B industry towards sustainability. Among the keynote novel sub-events of the edition were:
● Top Table
● Gulfood StrEAT
● YouthX
● Zero Waste Programme
The Gulfood Innovation Awards also debuted many products that focused on sustainability. This likewise applied to the Gulfood Inspire Conference.

Top Table debuted as an innovative sub-event that featured over 100 chefs. The featured chefs included leading figures, such as:
● Antonio Bachour (2018 Best Pastry Chef)
● Anthony Demetre (Food waste pioneer and innovator)
● Tom Aikens
● Nick Alvis
● Khalid Al Saadi
● Faisal Naser
● Mohamad Orfali
Top Table featured a diverse range of masterclasses and workshops. Among the high engaging were Oyster Shucking, Exquisite Tea, and the Art of Fine Butchery. During the sub-event, the Michelin-star-studded chefs presented over 1000 new culinary creations. Top Table also featured many leading food journalists, disruptors, global trendsetters, and influencers. Inaugurating the first day of the sub-event was Nick Alvis, the Chef Parton of Folly. He presented a signature culinary dish: roasted saddle lamb with pine nuts and salsa.
High-quality culinary dishes were also the highlight of the Gulfood StrEAT sub-event. It allowed attendees to sample traditional to eccentric food from the Middle East. Each dish was in a bite-sized form presented by local chefs such as Alia Al Mazrouei. The samples varied from chicken burgers through oysters to Crispy Fried Taco.

E-commerce was among the central themes of Gulfood 2022. The Gulfood Inspire Conference presented the topic under the sub-theme Gulfood E-commerce. Dubai’s Chamber of Commerce served as the collaborator for each session. The lectures discussed trends, trials, and solutions. Key Brand leaders, policymakers, start-ups, and food technologists discussed these subjects. Among the speakers were:
● Wassim Makarem, Q-Commerce’s VP
● The COO of Fresh to Home, Arun Kumar Krishnan
● Kirti Maghnani, Head of Procurement for Choithrams
● Benjamin Mouflard, Co-Founder of ChatFood
E-commerce is vital, as it can improve the F&B industry. For instance, the latest forecasting shows that the sector will reach US$71.62 billion by 2028. Several factors inspire such an increase. Among them is the consumer shift to online shopping. Another key contributing factor is the increased high-income potential of consumers. Yet, while the current offerings provide opportunities, they also show some urgent-to-address challenges. These show that the sector has yet to reach its full potential and achieve success. Among the urgent challenges are satisfying the latest consumer trends.

Gulfood 2022 debuted as the event’s first sustainable edition. It completed the task through the Zero Waste Programme. The Programme and the edition address the food waste global issue in a unique way. This included beginning an initiative during which 30 chefs focus on sustainable practices. Such include the use of local produce. It also featured not disposing of ugly goods such as vegetables that do not meet standards. For the task, the Programme featured various off-site workshops and masterclasses. The attendees included Boca, Bistro Des Arts, Dibba Bay Oysters and CMP Bar and Grill.
The Programme additionally featured the collection of food waste. This waste is then used to produce compost. As an alternative, leftovers were collected to be hygienically packed for redistribution. The food waste for compost was collected from all areas of the event. Among the targeted locations were the exhibitor stands and live cooking stations. The aim is to collect 1,000 kg of waste to produce 400 kg of compost at the Zero Waste Mega Impact site.
The initiative allowed companies to make impact-driven changes and to promote networking opportunities. This included creating partnerships with one of the attending companies, Waste Lab. This is an innovative enterprise that implements repurposing food solutions. The Programme additionally featured dedicated sessions within the Gulfood Inspire Conference. These were held under the theme Gulfood Zero Waste. It also included an award ceremony during which zero waste-leading restaurants received recognition.
Among the lauded participants were:
● Hilton
● Dubai’s Arbor School
● EroeGo
● the Dubai Oyster Project
Each company received a Gulfood Zero Waste Award for its innovative solutions. Such included EroeGo receiving recognition as a “Zero Waste Changemaker.” This is due to their quick and efficient method for reclaiming “ugly” produce. This included collecting the misshaped, yet healthy fruits or vegetables discarded by producers. They then delivered them to customers at discounted prices.
The Arbor School received an award in the “Community Collaboration” category. Their dedication to promoting sustainable living in society is the reason for this. This included the providing of high-engaging community programmes for families. These focused on educating and inspiring a sense of responsibility towards nature. This includes being conscious of the environment and food sustainability. The programmes feature training on picking, preserving and fermenting produce. They also include vegan cooking, seed starters and upcycling.
The “Growing Movement” award was granted to the multinational leader in hospitality Hilton. This is due to their “Travel with Purpose 2030” goals. The goals aim to reduce managed operations waste and food waste sent to landfill outputs by 50%. For the task, all enterprise hotels will use sustainable, zero-waste products. The sourcing will take place through partnerships with local farms. An example of such a partnership is their signed agreement with Fresh on Table.
The Dubai Oyster Project earned the ‘Most Impactful Initiative’ category award. This is due to them rehabilitating reef systems via discarded oyster shells. These are donated to the Arbor School where families, convert the shells into a natural reef. The reef is then transported to the EMEG reserve near Ghantout. Omar Shihab from restaurant BOCA earned the “Zero Waste Hero” category award. This is due to his pioneering of projects related to creating the Middle East’s best sustainable restaurant. This includes reusing the discarded glass bottles and corks. Further, the projects include conserving cooking oil. The oil is then converted into biodiesel. Furthermore, Omar Shihab collaborates with local artists to create art pieces.
Each award winner had a ghaf tree planted in their honour at the Jebel Ali desert. This was done instead of providing the usual type of award ceremony.

YouthX is one of the novel sub-events to debut during Gulfood 2022. The edition focused on aspiring Emirati chefs. The sub-event included a detailed and extensive mentorship as well as a scholarship programme. It is the result of Gulfood, Hilton, and the Dubai College of Tourism uniting to promote F&B careers. The programme included an intense competition. The winner of the contest will travel to a Hilton European location to gain chef experience. The remaining finalists received a 25% scholarship for training at Dubai’s College of Tourism.

The edition featured leading chefs as mentors. This included:
● Laila Al Mansoori, Chef at DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island
● Kasdi Dahari, Executive Chef at Hilton Palm Jumeirah
The winner of the YouthX competition was Meera Alnaqbi. She will travel to Croatia to train at the Hilton Costabella Resort & Spa in Rijeka. Her mentor will be Deni Srdoč, the Michelin-star restaurant's executive chef.

Sustainability and halal were among the central themes of the Gulfood 2022 Innovation Awards. The latest edition of the competition featured 300 entries from 65 nations. Many of them according to the jury will become the next vital trend in the industry. This made selecting the winners quite difficult with many receiving mentions. The winners were eventually chosen with three other products appointed as laudable finalists. The winner for each category is as follows:

● Winner of most innovative beverage
○ Rudy's Kombucha by King Coffee Service Ltd from Latvia.
A cold-brewed Kombucha drink with no alcohol and 100% halal-certified. Created via the Hard Tank technology which has the Specialty Coffee Association’s Innovation Award.

● Winner of most innovative beverage
○ NZMP Organic Butter Carbonzero™ by Fonterra from UAE
The world’s first carbon-zero butter, created via innovative production lifecycle solutions. Including the use of renewable energy and removing on-farm methane.

● Winner of most innovative chilled or frozen food
○ VEG - TOONA by KOKIRIKI from France.
A tuna of 100% veggie quality with the full flavour and fibrous aspects of fresh seafood. The one-of-a-kind composition of the product allows it to be kept for two months in a tray and a year in a can. This makes it suitable for long-distance trade.

● Winner of most innovative halal product
○ Carob Syrup BIO by Carob World Portugal, LDA from Portugal
A 100% natural, healthy, and versatile alternative sweetener. Carob is used as the source for the product. This is due to its popularity as an ingredient that contains essential nutrients. Such include potassium, calcium, and iron.

● Winner of most innovative organic product
○ Watermelon seed oil in capsules by International Trade Centre from Switzerland
An innovative product that contains 50% watermelon oil and no sugar. This makes it ideal for consumption as a dessert and confectionery.

● Winner of most innovative health, wellness & plant-based product
○ Fettuccine Zero+ by Spinosi from Italy
Red lentil flour pasta. Designed for use by sports lovers and athletes. Has a high concentration of protein and fibre. Ideal for consumption during weight loss or when exercising to stay fit.

● Winner for best packaging design impact
○ Drip Coffee - San Marcos and San Ramon by Tertulia Brugge S.A. from Costa Rica
A single-serve drip coffee packaged in a compostable container and recyclable box.

● Winner for most impactful sustainable product
○ Lightly Salted Almonds in Composite Canister Packaging by Olam Food Ingredients from UAE
High-quality almonds that better the habitats of bees. Created by collaborating with beekeepers. Protects the bee population by facilitating the best pollinator protection practices. Further, the product features a composite canister. It is created from a biodegradable and recyclable material.

The finalists within each category included:

● Most Innovative Beverage finalists
○ Coffee fruit cascara extract powder by Olam Food Ingredients from UAE
Superfood created from coffee cherry fruit and pulp. Contains ample antioxidants and flavonoids as well as a low amount of caffeine.

○ Innovation Cinnamon Coffee by Biocare Oro Tarrazu S.A from Cost Rica
A novel type of cinnamon coffee. Created via a process that incorporates placing the coffee cherry in a sealed and vacuumed tank for three days. This results in creating an exceptional aroma and flavour. The mentioned qualities contain notes of cinnamon, caramel, sweetness, and fruitiness.

○ Cup-Ji Green and Black Tea by Aditya Trading Company from India
High-quality black tea in a novel on-the-go cup. The tea leaves are placed between the base of the cup and a paper filter. To brew the beverage, the user simply pours hot water.

● Most Innovative Dairy Product finalists
○ Cuor D'Or by Argiolas Formaggi S.r.l.from Italy
Dairy products that are packaged in high sustainability packages. Each package contains 60% inert materials. Ideal for food contact with the containers simulating and environment within an eggshell. This preserves the products and ensures long-term high-quality.

○ Greenzly Coconut Vegangurt Natural by Magda Plant-Based Sp.z o.o. From Poland
Suitable for the environmentally conscious and avid lovers of yoghurt. Vegan yoghurt that is 100% plant-based. Fortified with essential elements for the immune system such as calcium, vitamins D3 and D12.

○ Mazoon Frankincense Milk by Mazoon Dairy Company SAOC from Oman
Fresh milk flavoured with natural hand-picked frankincense ingredients. Beneficial for the health of the body due to the herb.

● Most Innovative chilled or frozen food finalists
○ Deli Reform Oat Spread, 58% fat by Bunge Iberica S.A.U. from Spain
A healthy and popular alternative to butter, butter mixes and margarine. Created with shea and oats, with the shea base being obtained from nuts.

○ Zebra Ice by Zonama Food GmbH & Co KG from Germany
An icy treat created using only fruit purée and juice blended with pineapple sugar. It does not need to be refrigerated during transportation. This aids in saving CO2 emissions and promotes consumer convenience.

○ Frankincense Premium Ice Cream by Mazoon Dairy Company SAOC from Oman
Innovative ice cream created from pure dairy cream. Flavoured using natural frankincense ingredients.

● Most Innovative halal finalists
○ Marbaana Unsmoked Chicken Bacon Strips 150G 6 Slices by Marbaana from Ireland
A chicken strip product created using exclusively Halal breast meat. The meat is 100% responsibly sourced. Consists of unsmoked bacon strips with high protein and low-fat content.

○ Vitasoy Cafe for Baristas Almond Milk by Vitasoy from Australia
Halal-certified almond milk. HAs the highest content of almond and formulated to forth like milk. This allows baristas to create the perfect plant-based coffee each time.

○ Truffle Spice Seasoning by Tartufi Jimmy from Italy
An enriching condiment consisting of a blend of spicy chilly and truffles. The seasoning is available in a highly user-friendly pack.

● Most Innovative organic product finalists
○ Congo Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa Hazelnuts Heart by Neogourmets from France
The first bean-to-bar chocolate with no added sugars, sweeteners, or additives. Created after extensive years of research and uses only fruit as the source of sugar.

○ Moon Water by Falcon Gallant from Spain
A gluten-free and low-calorie soft drink. Created from 95% sourced-from-the spring mineral water and 5% natural fruit juice. Has light carbonisation to add tantalisation.

○ Organic Apple cider vinegar with the mother gummies by Acetificio Andrea Milano S.r.l. From Italy
Apple cider vinegar gummies created using only organic unfiltered with the mother material.

● Most Innovative health, wellness & plant-based product finalists
○ Freakin’ Healthy® Plant Based Cheese Spread by Agthia Group PJSC from UAE
The UAE’s first clean-label and locally produced vegan cheese. Based on cashews and taste like dairy cheese.

○ Happygum by Happygum GmbH from Austria
A science-based gum that supports the psychological/cognitive functions of the brain. It also empowers metabolism. Contains lavender oil.

○ Roosiku organic blueberry raw chocolate by Roosiku OU from Estonia
Organic, pure, and raw chocolate with a high content of wild blueberries (40g berries within 37g of chocolate). It has a silky-smooth flavour and is rich in vitamins, flavonoids as well as antioxidants.

● Best packaging design impact finalists
○ MANUKA HONEY SPOON +20 UMF +83 MGO by Al Malaky Royal (Natural Max) General Trading Llc from OAE
The only and first +20 UMF honey packaged in an innovative for the honey and beehive industry on-the-go spoon.

○ Long Chips by Pernes L, SIA from Lativa
Innovative long chips in a package of an equally innovative design. An artist hand-paints the flavour descriptors.

○ Galerie du Thé"s Emperor’s Peak white tea by Ahmad Tea Ltd from the UK
Galeries du The network with gardens around the world to vacuum seal tea at the source and deliver it to consumers. The sealed packages consist of tea placed in a three-ply container. The package repels all moisture, resulting in high-quality freshness.

● Most impactful sustainable product finalists
○ Karibon® DP10441 by Bunge Iberica S.A.U. from Spain
A 100% shea-based product without added palm oil. The shea nuts used for the product are fully sustainable and inclusive. This is due to a women’s collective from West Africa gathering them and selling what they do not need for their households.

○ Peanut Butter Smooth by T&V 4 Life s.r.o. From the Czech Republic
The product is stored in recycle-friendly glass jars that fully preserve the freshness of the butter. The labels are created from compostable material. The material breaks down into biomass, water, and CO2.

○ Z – BRONZE by Lakrids by Bulow A/S from Denmark
A product line packed in jars made from 100% recycled plastic. The company uses green energy at 100% thus reducing CO2 emissions by 98%.

The jury for the Gulfood Innovation Award 2022 consisted of:
● Lianne Walsh, Founder of Palm PR
● Jane Barraclough, Founder of Yalla Magazine
● Claudia De Britto, leading journalist, and F&B consultant
● Faisal Naser, Founder of Lento
● Vineetha Sony, Head of Trade Advisory Services

Gulfood 2022 reconfirmed the trade fair's status as a leading business platform. This is because of significant networking events that took place during the edition. One of them is ASMAK signing a strategic distribution agreement with FISH FARM. ASMAK is the Middle East's lead fresh and frozen seafood provider. FISH FARM is the UAE’s pioneer aquaculture company that focuses on marine fish breeding. It also supports the local aquaculture industry by establishing hatcheries. This reduces the UAE's dependency on imported fish. ASMAK will distribute FISH FARM’s products using two means. These include its world-class processing facility. They also include its wholesale, retail, and food service distribution channels. This will help the aquaculture company to expand its customer network.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Gulfood 2022 featured a total of 4000 participating companies. The participants represented 120 countries. The countries with the most participants included:
● Austria
● Denmark
● Egypt
● France
● Germany
● India
● Iran
● Italy
● Spain
● Netherlands
● Turkey
● Switzerland
● UK
● India
● Egypt
● Panama
● Norway
● Uzbekistan
● Uruguay
● Dominican Republic
Among the leading exhibitors of the edition were ABIEC - Brazilian Beef Exporters Association. They further included ABPA - Associacao Brasileira de Proteina Animal and Absolute Trading LLC. Automatic Brewers / Barista Espresso and Unilever also attended the edition. So did Del Monte Quality, Transmed, Carrefour, and Ahmad Tea Ltd. Furthermore, the edition included more than 150 speakers and over 100 leading chefs.

All participants of Gulfood 2022 consider the edition to be quite successful. Additionally, according to participants, the rendition continues the trend set by Gulfood 2021. On the safety measures, 98% of the attendees considered Gulfood to be a “safe/very safe event”. 99% of them also deemed the implemented safety measures to be “excellent/adequate”. Following the success of Gulfood 2022, organisers announced the new hosting dates for the 2023 edition. Gulfood 2023 will take place between 20.02.2023 and 24.02.2023. It will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre as a face-to-face exhibition. The venue will once again install strict and proven Covid-19 safety measures to ensure the safety of attendees.