A return of optimism was on full display among the 4,000 exhibitors and more than 100,000 visitors at Gulfood – one the world’s largest food trade shows – held Feb. 13-17 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“It’s very similar to the shows in 2019 and 20, prior to COVID,” reported USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom from the trade show floor. “The hotel occupancy rates in the region are sky-high, foodservice is starting to rebound as well. There’s this sense of optimism around the business climate here in this part of the world today.”
Signs indicate the retail and foodservice sectors are anxious to return to pre-COVID trade, but price and supply pressures are at play in the market, according to Halstrom. While the Middle East and Africa regions, which are the heart of the Gulfood show, have always been price-driven, USMEF is working to broaden the mix of cuts going into those markets.
“It’s traditionally been a beef variety meat region, but we’re trying to expand that product profile into more of the muscle cuts section,” Halstrom said. “And not necessarily just the middle meats, we’re promoting the sirloin cap, brisket and shoulder clod.”
USMEF Africa representative Matt Copeland noted that a broad array of African nations have returned to Gulfood looking for protein sources.
“Certainly, Gulfood is back in full force. It was brilliant in terms of the candidates that have visited from South Africa, Angola, Gabon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and even some of the smaller countries such as Senegal and Equatorial Guinea. Everyone is back in the marketplace and interested to see what opportunities exist right now,” he said.
Copeland adds, “They’re desperate for quality nutrition, but prices have obviously increased during the COVID period. As a result, they need to find alternative suppliers so we’re here explaining to them the quality, nutritional values and some of the unbelievable taste experiences that exist in conjunction with U.S. beef.”
USMEF’s participation in Gulfood 2022 was made possible through support from USDA, the Beef Checkoff Program and the Texas Beef Council.