SIAL Middle East is the region’s fastest growing food, beverage and hospitality event

Interview with Joanne Cook

Managing Director, SIAL Middle East

We are all used to the name SIAL and everyone in the food industry would have come cross the name SIAL before. Interview with Joanne Cook, Managing Director at SIAL Middle East

1-It is a pleasure interviewing you Ms Joanne, Can you talk to us about the history of  SIAL Middle East , how long has it been going?

SIAL Middle East is the region’s fastest growing food, beverage and hospitality event. SIAL Middle East has witnessed staggering growth over the past 5 years to be recognised as the authentic business class event for the food, beverage and hospitality sector. Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, SIAL Middle East is part of SIAL Group, part of SIAL Group, the world’s no 1 food exhibition network with 10 exhibitions in 5 continents attracting 12,500 exhibitors and 300,000 visitors.

2- Please would you describe the type of exhibitors and visitors ,  their activity , which  part  of the world do they come from. and why do  they participate  in the SIAL ME

Launching with 300 exhibitors in 2010, the 2014 edition of the event showcase 818 exhibitors. Similarly a 117% increase in trade buyers has been witnessed over the past 5 years. With support from the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, SIAL Middle East hosts 500 top buyers from the Middle East, North Africa and Indian Sub-Continent.

In terms of exhibitors, the 2014 edition attracted 818 exhibitors from 44 countries, including 27 national country pavilions. 78% of the exhibitors at the event represent international companies. Key product categories showcased at SIAL Middle East include grocery products, gourmet & fine food, meat/poultry/game, non-alcoholic beverages and organic products.

When it comes to visitors, the 2014 edition of the event attracted more than 15,000 trade attendees from 82 countries. SIAL Middle East has contributed significantly to the food, beverage and hospitality industry as the number of deals at the event have increased every single year. With US$ 250 million worth of deals in its launch year, the 2014 edition of the event closed with deals worth US$ 560 million. Top 5 company activities represented by visitors include import/trade, distributor/agency, central purchasing group, supermarket, hypermarket/retailer, wholesales.

3-How many exhibitors and visitors do you expects this year ?

With a successful event yet again in 2014, we are looking forward to welcome more than 900 exhibitors and 17,000 visitors at SIAL Middle East 2015.

4-What other events are taking place within SIAL Middle East like conferences , workshops, innovation awards?

SIAL Middle East is more than just an exhibition. While attending SIAL Middle East is an excellent procurement and networking opportunity for buyers and visitors, there is lot more on offer around the event. Here are the various activities and features within the event that give buyers additional reasons to attend:


Innovation is the DNA of SIAL events worldwide and Middle East is no exception. SIAL Innovation Area showcases the world’s most innovative products, guaranteeing an experience for attendees to learn about upcoming trends in the food & beverage sector. SIAL Middle East 2014 had the largest number of entries (141) from all over the world and 42 of them were shortlisted. Camelait Premium Camel Milk Ice Cream from Al Ain Dairy was chosen an overall winner out of the 10 finalists. Only open to exhibitors and judged by XTC

World Innovation, SIAL Innovation presents an excellent opportunity to showcase new innovative products to thousands of attendees.


Organised by the Emirates Culinary Guild in association with the World Association of Chefs

Societies, La Cuisine by SIAL features more than 650 chefs from all over the region competing to win one of the four prizes (Best Arabian Cuisiner, Best Pastry Chef, Best Kitchen Artist and Best Cuisiner). While the competition guarantees presence of celebrity judges, participating chefs meet exhibiting companies to learn about the latest innovation and products on offer.


For three days, Conferences @ SIAL Middle East become a platform for interactive discussions and industry expertise. Innovative trends, industry updates, new products and solutions are featured in these food and beverage sector tailored gatherings, which attract category managers, F&B managers and executive chefs.


OnBoard Catering (previously ITCA Abu Dhabi) will return for its 2nd edition alongside SIAL Middle East 2015. As a co-located event for the travel catering industry, OnBoard Catering attracts some of the top buyers from airline and cruise companies.


In order to highlight the vast supply opportunities on offer, Etihad Airways will host exclusive sessions for SIAL Exhibitors discussing airlines’ requirement of food products, beverages and equipment. 2014 was the second year running when Etihad Airways met exhibitors at SIAL Middle East and discussed opportunities on becoming a supplier for the airline industry.


The 34th edition of Mercury Awards will be held alongside the 2015 edition of SIAL Middle East. As the most prestigious award for the travel catering industry, entry is open to manufacturers, suppliers and service providers from all over the world.

5-What are the challenges ahead in the next few years for SIAL Middle East

Rather than the challenges, I would like to refer to them as aims or objectives. Our aim for SIAL Middle East in the years to come is to continue to be innovative in everything we do. As innovation is key to SIAL events worldwide, we would like that to reflect on SIAL Middle East as well. Similarly, another aim for us is to make SIAL Middle East a platform for inspiration, where attendees can walk away with valuable insights either in form of new products on display or food intelligence.