With consumer spending in the GCC food retail sector expected to reach $106 billion in the next five years according to a recent report by A T Kearney, and with food spend accounting for 28 percent of total consumer spend in 2012, the foodservices industry is under pressure to meet the demand for food products and ingredients, particularly fine, gourmet and niche.
The Sauid Gazette reports that the  excellent response from exhibitors at this year’s Speciality Food Festival , the Middle East’s only dedicated gourmet and fine food trade exhibition, is indicative of the strong market potential in the region. Taking place on Nov. 17-19, 2013 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, the trade-only show provides access to the Middle East’s premium food market and offers prime opportunities for regional suppliers to expand overseas. The three-day event will showcase a diverse selection of fine foods, from special breed meats to luxury chocolates, fresh organic produce and some of the rarest ingredients sought after by chefs in the region.
The highly lucrative opportunity that the Middle East represents is also reflected by the expansion of high-end food retailers and fine dining establishments in the region. Waitrose recently opened its sixth store in the UAE earlier this year, while Hakkasan, the Cantonese fine dining concept popular with Hollywood stars is set to open in Doha early next year following successful launches in the UAE.
“The Middle East is one of the most buoyant markets for the foodservices industry in the world. The market is driven primarily by internal demand generated by a rapidly growing local population and robust economy, creating new opportunities for many associated industries, including the high-end food & beverage sector,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Dubai World Trade Centre , organizer of The Speciality Food Festival. With the increase in gourmet restaurants across the region, and the fast growth of the retail trade, the Speciality Food Festival has never been more important for helping to facilitate real business for the world’s top suppliers of gourmet food products, manufacturers and distributors.”
Abu Dhabi Tea House, Artteas will be returning to The Speciality Food Festival this year following their debut at the 2012 edition. Showcasing their renowned Japanese Matcha Tea, a fine powder green tea, known for its many health benefits and nutritional properties, they look forward to another successful year. “We secured two agreements with major players in the hospitality industry thanks to our participation last year; this allowed us to develop other potential contacts with large hotel groups and independent restaurants. We consider the Speciality Food Festival an ideal platform to reach our targeted niche market” said Imma Plana, Manager, Artteas .
Now in its fourth year, visitors can be assured of new products and services from both multinational organizations and smaller independent suppliers from every corner of the world. Over twenty eight countries have confirmed their participation this year including Argentina, China, Chile, Egypt, France, Germany, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, and Vietnam, while leading brands exhibiting at this year’s event include Chef Middle East, Coffeeland, Reem al Bawadi, Swiss Bakery and Unifrutti.
With specialty cuisines exciting diners throughout the region, exhibitors such as Mama Sita  will showcase traditional Filipino fare including Lumpia (spring rolls), Empanadas, all-natural tropical vinegars and a refreshing array of tropical fruit syrups for dessert. Greek exhibitor Coffeeland will be bringing one of their best-selling products to the show this year, their world renowned fruit “slush” made from strawberry, kiwi, tropical fruit, orange and peach.