Gama spoke to Nasma Al Ameri, Head of Marketing (Events) at ADNEC, ahead of the F&B Networking Hub 2020.
What are your expectations for the F&B Networking Hub 2020?
The F&B Networking Hub 2020 represents a link with the upcoming SIAL ME 2021 event. Having had to postpone SIAL ME to 7th – 9th September 2021, we still want to continue to support the industry, connecting F&B communities during these challenging times, particularly because of ongoing restrictions.
The response of our stakeholders to the event has, so far, been impressive. The participation is mixed between the local and international private sector, the hospitality industry, and government and semi-government entities. In addition to the local representatives attending the event, including 20 date companies which are supported by the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation, we also have products from across the world, including Afghanistan, Cameroon, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, Poland, and Singapore.
In addition, we wanted to ensure that sellers still had the opportunity to book meetings with buyers and connect with one another. To that end, we transformed the hosted buyer’s lounge which we run during SIAL ME into an innovative virtual platform. The platform will be open for five days, starting on 23rd November.
What key trends do you expect to shape food and drinks innovation in 2021?
In Abu Dhabi and the wider MENA region, there are a number of key trends that offer opportunity for growth in food and beverages innovation in 2021. There is a higher level of demand in the market, which always offers more opportunity for both sellers and buyers. Customers are looking for an increased level of customisable options, in particular looking for health-focused culinary concepts that fit an improved lifestyle.
New trends also include a stronger environmental awareness among consumers, as customers pay attention to ingredients, where they were sourced from, and the packaging of the products which they will buy. Finally, rapid e-commerce offerings, enabled by technology, are going to continue to grow, offering a safe and strong online presence that provides easy online and mobile ordering.
How should FMCG companies best respond to the social, logistical and economic challenges currently impacting the sector?
As with all different sectors, the pandemic has brought a range of challenges to the FMCG sector. However, it has also brought new opportunities for the industry as well. The importance of being able to maintain global FMCG trade links during lockdown was emphasised as an imperative, with air cargo being used extensively to ensure that communities remained with foodstuffs during the pandemic. 2020 has emphasised the continued importance of the global FMCG sector for day-to-day life.
Nevertheless, new challenges have presented themselves which companies will need to address. Changing consumer habits are a principal concern, as through lockdown consumers have transitioned from traditional weekly shopping to more spontaneous online grocery shopping. Sellers and buyers will need to gradually adapt to the shifting purchasing patterns which such new habits entail.
In the hospitality sector, restaurants are now under several new restrictions, including the mandating of safety in outlets, the limited access customers are able to have, and the opening hours which they can operate. Restaurants are having to innovate in how they offer products and services to their customers.
What is clear is that the pandemic has affected and will continue to impact the global sector. Over the next 12 months, foodservice companies ready to innovate how they maintain their supply and how they optimise their services will come out on top. Bringing the sector together at the F&B Networking Hub 2020, we will be looking to act as a forum that can support businesses and spark innovation that can drive future growth.
About F&B Networking Hub 2020
This year SIAL Network brings an innovative, thought provoking programme bringing food & drink suppliers from across the globe together with top industry buyers from retail, catering and foodservice, food manufacturing, wholesale and distribution to discuss solutions and the future of the food and beverage industry in Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
The F&B Networking Hub by SIAL ME organized by ADNEC in collaboration with Comexposium will host an exciting line-up of talks discussing the latest trends in the food, drink, tourism and hospitality industries for 2021 and beyond.
Our unique virtual event will enable you to attend live summit sessions, explore virtual solutions – explore trends and network with top industry related speakers, leaders and buyers.
About SIAL Middle East
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of The Abu Dhabi Agriculture & Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA), the tenth edition of SIAL Middle East, the exclusive regional food, beverage and hospitality trade event, will run from 9th to 11th December 2019 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).
The event is organised by ADNEC, in collaboration with Comexposium and with a strategic partnership with The Abu Dhabi Agriculture & Food Safety Authority.
Expected to draw the participation of over 1,000 exhibitors, more than 30 country pavilions and over 20,000 industry experts from more than 50 countries, the upcoming edition of the event is set to mark a significant growth in terms of participation from leading local, regional and international organisations working in the food industry.