AI and online make an appearance as food brands serve up change in a big way.
Gulfood 2021 marked the most successful return for food businesses worldwide as the only live, in-person food & beverage sourcing event of the year.
Business was thriving across the show floor as exhibitors from 85 countries met up with buyers and attendees from 156 countries to kick-start 2021 with major orders. All, in the safest face-to-face business space.
Gulfood is bringing together the world’s most influential chefs, food scientists, government officials and industry leaders who are at the forefront of innovation to discuss and shape the future of food and gastronomy as we will delve into topics revolving around:
• Governments’ role in shaping the future of food
• Adapting to healthier, sustainable lifestyles
• Leveraging emerging and future food technologies
• Using block chain – Ai – Money 4.0 – Payment, transfers in Digital Banking, F&B Marketing, Tourism and Retail
Check the history… Technology – and Big Tech at that – will show up more often in the food business. Carrefour supermarkets deploying IBM’s blockchain technology to check out the origins and more about farm produce and fresh chicken selling at its stores is just a taster. More products will get added, and these days, customers do want to know as much as possible about what they are putting on the table.
If all of this eases the path for more foodstuffs companies to chase online aspirations, that could be where growth is coming from next. A slew of companies in the trade are activating their online channels, many of them on their own.
One headline number sums it all up – Dh1.5 billion. That’s the value of food bought through online channels from Dubai alone during 2020. And the year-on-year growth rate? A whopping 255 per cent.
Sure, people were spending more time online, as they tried to work out a way of life that keeps them protecting from COVID-19. And yes, this was primarily the factor cooking up the super-charged growth for food sales via online portals.
The lesson? The F&B category has already made the transition to a hybrid model, existing on orders streaming in from portals as well as th takeaway business. A full-scale return to full dining in should still be some months away. Above, visitors enjoy tasting the variety of donuts on display at the Stokson Modern Bakery stall.
Grocery too has made a successful transition into a hybrid model, relying as much on shoppers picking up their daily or weekly needs on these portals as they did from a trip down to the supermarket or neighbourhood baqala.
It’s less costly to create a bare minimum B2B or B2C portal. Some businesses are now wholly reliant on the digital connection to stay afloat.
Others are engaging in scaling up their own online presence rather than rely on the big online marketplaces, where they are always jostling for space to get visibility. And raising that exposure comes at a steep cost, that at this moment, the small or mid-sized food brands are not able to meet.
Calling in AI and blockchain related serviced might be intimidating for the smaller players. But don’t worry – there is a digital solution that is accessible to all sorts of businesses.
If origins are getting to be that important, then it should be no great surprise that packaging will not be an afterthought. “The MEA region alone is valued at Dh300 billion and. includes both rigid and flexible packaging,” said a spokesperson at Hotpack. “In the relevant segment that we operate, the market size in the UAE is valued at Dh10 billion and is expected to reach Dh14 billion by 2025. There has been a surge in ecommerce. The opportunity has grown in the food packaging considering the increased demand for packaged foods.”
Gulfood 2021 has thus been a trial run as well as a platform to explore opportunities. It’s for the food industry to tuck into the strategies that will shape their future… and the industry.
Top-level business leaders and major F&B producers have praised Gulfood 2021, the world’s first in-person F&B event for 12 months, for facilitating an essential and timely return to face-to-face interaction.
Block chain and AI will be used more widely in the future.