Gulfood Manufacturing 2023 offers major industry showcase for machinery and ingredients
Lee Fish, of BCH Rochdale, reveals the company has had an engaging start to this year's Gulfood Manufacturing. Pic: Neill Barston
The ninth edition of Gulfood Manufacturing in Dubai has got off to a sparkling start, as major manufacturers from around the world assemble to showcase their latest equipment, systems and ingredients, writes Neill Barston.
In a year that has seen the long-awaited return of Interpack in Germany, and a number of other major packaging and processing showcases, this week’s Middle East showcase has maintained its status as the major launch-pad for machinery and technology for the wider region.
With a total of 3,000 exhibitors participating, Confectionery Production is playing its part as a media sponsor for the event, has spoken to a number of businesses at the show on their latest developments.
Notably, with MENA region’s food market recently valued at $383 billion according to research from GlobalData, the corresponding demand for systems and equipment serving the market, including its confectionery and snacks segments, remains particularly strong.
Visitors from around the world took to the halls of Dubai’s World Trade Centre for the opening of the three-day industry extravaganza that has attracted an engaging mix of major corporations, as well as independent businesses and organisations covering the sector’s full value chain.
The event is also taking place for the final time directly alongside ISM Middle East, providing a platform for more than 330 sweets and snacks businesses, with the show set to move to a new timeframe from September 2024.
Speaking to Confectionery Production, UK equipment manufacturer, BCH, believed there had been encouraging footfall for the start of the event, as the company showcased its lines such as its liquorice extrusion machinery.
Lee Fish (main image), technical sales and process engineer with the business, said: “So far the response has been quite positive, as we have had a good response from visitors from both sides of our company, across food processing and confectionery.
“Gulfood is a show that has been developing well over the years, so it’s been a good one for us to do. You never know the results for it in terms of leads that you get, but the feeling we’ve got so far is that it will be a positive show.
“We’ve had customers from quite a few countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, looking at our liquorice extrusion systems, which is an area of demand for us,” explained the engineering specialist, who explained that the business is enjoying notably busy times in continuing to expand its Lancashire headquarters.
Similarly, fellow equipment firm, Wirebelt, struck an upbeat tone on the first day’s proceedings, observing that while its particular hall had felt quieter than previously, there were some positive signs.
Ben Thomason, consultant for the group, said: “It started a little quietly, but it has been picking up in the afternoon, and if we keep it to that level across the three days with some good leads then that is what we are looking for.
“This is my fourth year here of being here personally. As a business, with us being dominant in Europe, we’re looking to expand into other areas – there has been some enthusiasm for our range of products and people are recognising them,” explaining that there has been a strong emphasis on its advanced hygienic line, offering features including being easier and quicker to fit than previous iterations of its portfolio.
As he noted, its systems have targeted confectionery and wider food market customers who are seeking high quality belting systems that can help alleviate production issues that can lead to product recalls through its reliable and accurate technology.
For its part, ingredients group Kerry also delivered among the more striking stands at this year’s show, offering a spotlight on its core range of applications for the industry, including for snacks and confectionery.
Leanna Mix, marketing director, revealed that the opening day had proved a success for the business, as it reaches out with bespoke solutions for the sector.
She said: “We have been focusing on sustainable nutrition within our portfolio, but confectionery is still part of the business, as it’s something that people are always going to want.
“We look at creating local intelligence, and the sweets here in the Middle East have their own gorgeous identity. Many of them use a lot less processing steps in them than other locations, and are a lot more naturally based. So we’re seeing a lot of interest in things like Turkish delight, because these are key for the region, so we’re making a real effort to customise our products.”
As she added, there are textural and flavour preferences that have been specific to the region, which the company is continuing to hone in on, but that a creation of new fusions has opened up possibilities for its applications.
Also in the ingredients sector, Denmark’s Palsgaard attracted Peter Gruntvig Nielsen, marketing manager for the firm’s confectionery sector, explained that the company’s return to Dubai was proving worthwhile.
He added: “It’s been a really good first day, and picked up after lunch, which has been busy. The organisers know what they are doing with it all, they have been very helpful, so we are pretty happy with it.
“It’s definitely a priority for us to be present here in this region, which is huge in terms of its potential. This is THE show for this region, so we have to be here.
“We are promoting our AMP ingredients (reducing the volumes of cocoa butter required for chocolate, as well as improving viscocity), which have been shortlisted for the best ingredient innovation here, so we are hopeful regarding that,” noting that while the business had become established in terms of its presence for the region, he believed that there remained significant room for further growth with its portfolio of applications across confectionery, bakery dairy and wider food markets.
For her part, Simone Bouman, VP sales and sustainable food solutions EMEA, for Corbion, noted that the business was experiencing a significant level of demand for its applications. This has extended to the Middle East, with a large volume of visitors seeking to learn more about its latest market offerings, including for confectionery.
“As a company we have focused a lot on product preservation, as well as textures, food safety and shelf life, which have been the big themes this year.
“When it comes to confectionery, we have looked at preserving textures, as well as sugar reduction, as well as enhancing the taste of products, which have been part of our overall presence here.
For the MENA region, we have talked with customers here, and invent solutions, and for this region there’s still a lot of batch production with companies producing candies in batch cookers, rather than continuous lines, which are completely different and requires a different approach.”