Booming Italian food and drink imports to the UAE prompt Italy to be the first ‘Official Country Partner’ ‘for The Speciality Food Festival 2016
Dubai, UAE – Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) has signed a landmark partnership with the Italian Trade Agency (ICE) – the official government organisation, which promotes Italian companies internationally – that will see the best Italian food and drink producers participate at DWTC’s trio of specialist food events later this year. The agreement will also see Italy as the first ‘Official Country Partner’ for The Speciality Food Festival, which runs alongside Yummex Middle East and SEAFEX, at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from 7 to 9 November, 2016. “This landmark partnership reflects the long-standing support that our trio of niche food events have historically received from our partners at the Italian Trade Agency,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions & Events Management, DWTC. “The UAE and GCC are vitally important export markets for Italian food and beverage producers and our highly- specialised food trade events provide strategic commercial platforms to meet existing partners and outsource new trading opportunities in the UAE and the wider MENA region.” With Italy now ranked as the Emirates’ third-largest European trade partner, Italy-UAE trade flows surpassed €7 billion in 2015 – up from just under €6 billion in 2014. Additionally, Italian food exports to the UAE reached an all-time high in 2015. With the UAE importing more than €13 billion of international food products last year, Italian food and beverage products accounted for more than €380 million, according to Mr. Gianpaolo Bruno, the Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE. “The UAE is the gateway for Italian exports to the wider Middle East and North Africa region but it remains a highly-important market in its own right. Between 2005 and 2015, the total share of Italian food and drink imports to the UAE rose from 0.9 per cent to 2.9 per cent,” said Mr. Bruno. According to ICE, Italy emerges as one of the UAE’s top suppliers in terms of food quality. In fact, food quality is so important to Italians that the country has established strict criteria and guidelines to ensure authenticity of its products along the entire production chain through a system of regulated denominations and geographical indications. Moreover, Italy now has a quality hallmark ‘The Italian Extraordinary Taste’ designed to help consumers and operators immediately identify the authenticity of the product. “Italy has over 20 different regions and each has its own unique and distinctive cuisine. As a nation we have been gifted with all the main ingredients for optimal food production: vast territories, clean soil, biodiversity, pure water, a mild climate, creativity and passion for food resulting in high quality ingredients for excellent dishes,” said Mr. Bruno. He added: “Italy produces over 600 different kinds of cheese and has been the world leader in pasta-making for over 500 years.” “Despite its simplicity, much of the food served throughout Italy requires a great deal of work to produce and prepare. That is one of the reasons why the Italian culinary tradition treats every meal as a celebration and a reward, virtues that resonate well in the UAE, where meals are important social occasions for nationals and expatriates alike,” said Bruno. To meet the demand, more than 400 Italian restaurants opened across the UAE, according to ICE. At The Speciality Food Festival the Italian delegation includes more than 30 of the country’s leading food producers, of which half hail from Italy’s sun-drenched southern Mediterranean region. The exhibiting companies will display a wide range of high-quality products, from gourmet foods to dairy, pulses, meats, dried and canned food, olive oil, vinegar, confectionery and snacks. On this occasion, ICE and DWTC will collaborate on a large number of promotional activities related to the food sector including the First Italian Cuisine Week – the most influential event promoting Italian quality food and beverage and lifestyle in the world. Furthermore, and throughout the three-day Speciality Food Festival, visitors will indulge in a unique experience made of Italian aromas and flavours with excellent quality products where a series of Michelin-starred masterChefs will be leading numerous culinary demonstrations, including the “Breakfast Made in Italia” show and other presentations and courses, before the world-class chefs are hosted at 21 of Dubai’s leading Italian restaurants where they will prepare traditional and contemporary cuisine. Mr. Bruno states that the three-day Speciality Food Festival will also feature a series of culinary themed promotions including the Italian Cuisine World Summit Gala Dinner, the 1st Gelato Chefs Cup, the 4th Italian Espresso World Summit, the Italian Pizza World Contest and the Italian Street Food Festival. Visitors, chefs, baristas and other culinary experts will get the chance to compete for regional acclaim, or simply to witness world-class Italian food creation in the making. Interested professionals can check the SFF 2016 website for the various events programme. Spread across 22,0000 m² of exhibition space, The Speciality Food Festival, Yummex Middle East and SEAFEX are poised to attract more than 15,000 local, regional and international visitors from more than 85 countries.