One of the world’s mega food and hospitality shows – Gulfood 2022 – opened on Sunday in Dubai with food and beverage producers and traders from around the world showcasing their products and services.
The event is noteworthy on many fronts, foremost of which is the fact that the hotel, restaurant, and catering (HORECA) sector has proven its resilience during the past two years of the pandemic and emerged as one of the key contributors to the economy.
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Among the many local, regional, and international participants at Gulfood 2022, UAE-based Al Bayader International unveiled on the opening day a new business division exclusively catering to the food and beverage sector.
Al Bayader International, which has been established over three decades, is the leading sustainable and innovative manufacturer and supplier of packaging and cleaning solutions. The launch of the food division extends its current F&B packaging business to provide a one-stop solution in the HORECA sector.
“The launch of the new brands Baya Food and Baya Agua, in fact complements the announcement of our new division dedicated to the F&B sector. The two new brands represent a wide range of frozen, canned food, and beverages that can be offered to customers along with many existing products related to food packaging and cleaning products,” said Nidal Haddad, Founder & CEO of Al Bayader International, in an interview with Al Arabiya English.
As the pioneers in the region in food packaging, Al Bayader “aims to expand [its] footprint across the Middle East.”
“With the F&B sector gaining traction and governments increasingly focusing on driving food security and cutting food waste, we see a strong opportunity to showcase our differentiating strengths. Our commitment to sustainability is indeed our strength and through our diverse portfolio of products and strong domestic manufacturing competencies, we can serve the region effectively. In fact, the launch of our new food and beverage division will play a central role in this,” Haddad said.
“We have also rolled out several initiatives to serve the hotel, restaurants and catering (HORECA) sector, including private labelling,” he said. The various solutions customised for the HORECA sector takes into consideration the certifications needed, such as Hala, Kosher, and Organic.
“With the UAE placing emphasis on promoting national food security, we believe it is important to support the sector through sustainable packaging solutions that help to enhance the longevity and quality of food manufactured in the country.”
As a sustainability champion in the industry, Al Bayader International recently made waves when it inaugurated the UAE’s first and largest solar rooftop within the food packaging plant in the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA). The 980 kWp solar rooftop plant spans an area of 4,000 square meters and will generate over 1.5 GWh of clean electricity annually.
Another sustainability best practice includes a Botanical Garden in Jebel Ali that has over 20 types of plants and 240 plus trees native to the Mediterranean region, which is irrigated using treated water. The garden offsets 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Al Bayader International currently owns and operates six manufacturing and nine logistics locations with a current production capacity of over 31,000 tonnes per annum covering more than 1,700 products.
The company’s manufacturing processes in Jebel Ali are also zero waste – all industrial scrap produced during production is recycled and reused in production.
Speaking about the prospects going forward, Haddad said: “There is strong growth potential for the HORECA sector, which has demonstrated impressive resilience following the pandemic. In fact, what shines through from the past months is how the industry has pivoted online, and are exploring creative avenues to sustain their growth.”
“The opening of the tourism sector, no doubt, will further enhance its prospects as do large-scale events being hosted in the region – current, the Expo 2020 Dubai and the upcoming FIFA World Cup. Across the board, we see the MICE sector too gaining traction, which will also add value to the sector.”
From a consumer point of view, the pandemic has brought a new dynamism to the food industry, Haddad explained.
He cited a report by Alpen Capital that demand for food in the GCC is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.3 percent to reach 52.4 million tons in 2025 from 46.8 million tons in 2020.
When asked about the lessons learnt during the last two years, Haddad is quick to point out that “one of the key lessons from our industry perspective is the need for the industry to pursue sustainability across its value chain.”
“Embracing sustainable food packaging solutions plays a significant role in how the industry can contribute to the environment while ensuring they use only quality packaging solutions that helps maintain the freshness and hygiene of food. The key is to limit food waste and contribute to national food security, which was evident during the pandemic. We must continue to focus on staying committed to responsible food storing and consumption practices.”
Key F&B trends in the Gulf region
With more than 134,000 food service outlets in the GCC, according to Marmore Media Intelligence, and the demand for food expected to rise, as mentioned above, the F&B sector is one of the most promising, points out the CEO of Al Bayader International.
“While the pandemic impacted every business, F&B was among the first to innovate and pivot to an online model of delivery to meet the needs of customers. This digitalization of processes is a defining trend in the industry,” he said.
“On the consumer side, there has also been a change in food habits, especially in the growing popularity of quick service restaurants, and a focus on authentic culinary fare.
“The rising demand for food and the need to deliver the community seamlessly has also led to the rise of cloud kitchens and kitchen-as-a-service model, which help meet increased demand.”
The third key trend is an increasing awareness on the need to limit food wastage and to embrace sustainable practices, added Haddad.
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