Analysis: Industry Flocked to Gulfood Event

DUBAI—Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food and beverage sourcing event, rebounded in a big way from the pandemic this year.

The show, which concluded on February 17, featured 4,000 exhibiting companies from 120 countries, up 75% over the 2021 show. Estimated attendance was slightly below 100,000.

As the primary trade show serving the Middle East and Africa, Gulfood is vital to the region.

Tolga Sezer, CEO of the multinational food company Solico Group, said: “Gulfood is the ultimate industry platform. Our contacts are all here, so it is a very important week for us, as a regional company, to generate business.

“You can feel the buzz everywhere.”

There were no vaccination or COVID test requirements to attend this year’s Gulfood show, although there were stringent mask protocols inside the exhibit hall. The United Arab Emirates’ fine for not wearing a mask in public is currently $833 (USD).

Stretching over 21 exhibit halls, Gulfood is divided into seven food sectors: Beverages; Dairy; Meat & Poultry; Pulses, Grains & Cereals; Fats & Oils; Power Brands and World Food.

The international pavilions, many spanning multiple exhibit halls, were much larger this year than in 2021. For instance, Italy sported 180 companies, a 50% increase.

“The feedback from exhibitors is that buyers are back, and with many focused on new launches including truffle chips, confetti sweets and a big focus on bio/organic free from food,” said Amedeo Scarpa, Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE.

Turkey boosted its presence by 25%, with 152 Turkish companies. Fruit juices and ready-to-drink coffee were part of the Turkish offering. Taste Estonia, the F&B arm of Enterprise Estonia, hosted 16 companies displaying everything from natural mineral water and organic chocolate to fresh fish and plant-based protein products.

The United States, which has had a presence at Gulfood for more than three decades, featured 100-plus companies. From barbecue sauce to pistachios, to well-known brands such as Kellogg and Frito-Lay, the busy USA Pavilion demonstrated that the country is eager to get back on the international stage.

Anna Kizirian, Middle East Representative for Food Export Midwest/Northeast, said, “This year’s 2022 Gulfood was supercharged with ranges of top-quality USA products, beverages, fun food-related demonstrations, and the largest international visitors to the show post covid.”

Technology and sustainability were the dominant topics in the educational programming in Dubai, with 40-plus seminars over five days. Notable subjects included:

  • FoodTok Is Real: TikTok and the New Destination for Foodies
  • Cloud Kitchens: Utilizing 4.0 Technologies for Seamless Delivery Services
  • AgriTech Revolution: Technology Enabled Sustainability Initiatives

As part of the educational programming, Gulfood presented its first ever Zero Waste Awards.


More than 300 exhibitors from 39 countries entered the Gulfood Innovation Awards.

Winners included Spinosi, an artisan pasta producer from Italy, for its Fettuccine Zero+ product made from red lentil flour, which was named “Most Innovative Health, Wellness & Plant-Based Product”. The award for the “Most Innovative Organic Product” was scooped up by the International Trade Centre, for its Watermelon Seed Oil in Capsules.