USA country of honour amid 1,000 exhibitors from 52 countries with 650 debutants; 50 new product launches; 500 chefs to compete for La Cuisine titles and pre-registered visitors up 85%

Abu Dhabi, November 25, 2012: SIAL Middle East, the region’s fastest growing professional trade exhibition for the food, drink and hospitality industries, opens today (Monday 26 November) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and runs until Wednesday 28 November.

Held in strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), the three-day event occupies eight halls at the ADNEC venue, and features three co-located exhibitions, Rice & Grains, ITCA Abu Dhabi and the Emirates International Date Palm Festival.

Mohammad Jalal Al Reyaysa, Chairman of the Higher Organising Committee for SIAL Middle East and ADFCA Official Spokesperson, said: “The stage is now set for what must be one of the most important events of its kind in the regional calendar. Food security is a major issue throughout the MENA region and when combined with Abu Dhabi’s strategic location goes some way to explaining the massive interest shown in SIAL Middle East by all sectors of the food industry.”

This year’s country of honour, USA has 17 exhibitors, participating at SIAL Middle East at a time when US food exports to the GCC last year reached record levels valued at US$2.8 billion, with the UAE accounting for almost 36% of those exports.

US agricultural products exported to the UAE have grown by almost 13% during the same period (2010-2011) from US$856 million to US$969 million. Consumer oriented products grew almost 20% to US$635 million. The main exports overall were tree nuts US$253 million; feeds and fodders US$169 million and poultry US$85 million.

Saudi Arabia remained the US’s largest export market in the GCC during 2011 with exports from the US worth US$1.3 billion a remarkable 55% increase over the previous year. Main Saudi agricultural imports from the US include coarse grains US$183 million; wheat US$160 million; vegetable oil US$128 million; with rice and dairy products each worth US$112 million.

In line with those impressive figures, SIAL Middle East has grown rapidly since its inaugural edition just two years ago. Last year in 2011, it welcomed 466 exhibitors from 43 countries, and 9,707 visitors, representing a 55% and 34% increase, respectively, on 2010 figures.

Overall the floor space accommodates in excess of 1,000 food exhibitors from 52 countries and has registered an impressive 60% growth in overseas market interest, with 21 international pavilions.

Awareness and anticipation of the event has also pushed pre-event registrations up by a dramatic 85% year-on-year with 6,000 visitors, across all industry sectors, signing up for next week’s event. This includes a contingent of 478 top hosted food buyers from the GCC, Africa and Indian subcontinent  coming to SIAL Middle East to actively source new business contacts.

Chris Fountain, Managing Director of Turret Media, organisers of SIAL Middle East, said: “This year’s event has been built on solid foundations from 2011, when 86% of exhibitors had already rebooked for 2012 prior to leaving the show, due in part I’m sure to the fact that US$ 350,000,000 worth of contracts were signed onsite last year.”

The three-day event includes an action-packed conference programme focusing on Private Label opportunities, a Food & Beverage Business Forum and Food Retail Forum, featuring high profile panel discussions as well as a series of interactive workshop sessions.

Other highlights include the prestigious SIAL Innovation Awards, a global food accolade that forms an integral part of each international SIAL event, acknowledging groundbreaking products and product trends. The 10 shortlisted nominees for the Middle East awards will be on display at the Innovation Observatory, along with previous winners from other global SIAL events.

The country’s top culinary talent will also be showcased with 500 chefs taking part in the annual La Cuisine by SIAL cooking competition, now in its third year and organised by the Abu Dhabi chapter of the Emirates Culinary Guild. Chefs at all levels are given the chance to put their skills and creativity to the test across various categories, with performance judged by a panel of peers and industry experts approved by the World Association of Chefs Societies.

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