Gulfood: Titans of F&B

#UAE | 25 February, 2020

Dr Dhananjay Datar, Chairman and Managing Director, Al Adil Trading Co

What are some products you’ve recently added in response to shifting demand at your supermarkets?

We always face on ongoing and increasing demand for high quality products at an affordable cost at all our Al Adil stores. We also strive to come out with new products that help to meet the changing consumer food consumption habits that are in tune with the changing times. Consumer preference mapping is an ongoing process and this helps us to provide products that are unique and different. The newly introduced products include barnyard millets, bajari atta, chana dal atta, mix millet/mix bhakari atta, premium chapatti atta, jawari atta, foxtail millets, kodo millets, proso millet, quinoa flour, pancake flour, ragi malt, little millets, quinoa seeds black, quinoa seeds brown, filtered groundnut oil, mustard oil, rice bran oil and sesame oil. The food industry is always changing and we have to be on our toes to meet the changing requirements.

"Consumer preference mapping is an ongoing process and this helps us to provide products that are unique and different."

- Dr Dhananjay Datar, Chairman and Managing Director, Al Adil Trading Co

Whether it’s plastic bags or the sourcing of ingredients, people are becoming increasingly conscious of sustainability when shopping. What steps are you taking to address their concerns?

We are aware of the need to address the sustainability issue. The top management is directly involved in finding new measures that will take care of this. We strive to provide organic food. Our ingredients are sourced directly from farms and we have a strong relationship with our service providers that enable us to source pesticide-free products. Moreover, we are directly involved in the manufacturing process and we ensure that there is no undue usage of preservatives and other chemicals. We will be phasing out plastic bags in a phased manner.


Dr Amedeo Scarpa, Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE and Director of Italian Trade Agency Dubai Office

You’ve been a regular at Gulfood for some time now. What new innovations will we be seeing at your stand this year?

Italian Trade Agency (ITA) is an established partner and has been participating in Gulfood for more than ten years. Not only do we promote excellent Made in Italy food ingredients and authentic Italian cuisine in the UAE and in Middle East but also a Battery Label system based on the Mediterranean diet. The Italian food label resembles a charging light-blue battery. The label shows the percentage of energy and nutrients from a recommended daily intake in a single serving. The cell is full when the daily average recommended amount of a given nutrient has been reached. This is an alternative to the “traffic light” scheme of nutrition labelling, which will discriminate against many food products due to their fat or salt content, but nonetheless nutritionally beneficial within a balanced diet.

"ITA is encouraging Italian SMEs in the food sector to use social media and internet to rethink their business model. ITA itself is boosting social media communication with its accounts on Twitter (@ITADubai), Instagram (@ITADubai) and LinkedIn (ITA - Dubai Office)"

- Dr Amedeo Scarpa, Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE and Director of Italian Trade Agency Dubai Office

How has social media changed the way in which consumers learn how about Italian food trends?

Technology and most of all social media platforms changed dramatically consumers’ behaviour and the way people eat and choose food. Millennials are choosing experience over things, in tourism, education, dining. And their annual consumer spending is increasingly towards experiences rather than material things. According to recent figures 78 per cent of Millennials are more willing to spend money on experiential things rather than concerts, festivals, dining out.

That’s why Millennials’ behaviour is driving the experience economy. This will force to rethink also the way a global event like Expo 2020 Dubai will be conceived and the way the national participation will be set up. On our side ITA is encouraging Italian SMEs in the food sector to use social media and internet to rethink their business model. ITA itself is boosting social media communication with its accounts on Twitter (@ITADubai), Instagram (@ITADubai) and LinkedIn (ITA - Dubai Office). Italian F&B sector is so widely known combining tradition and innovation, genuineness of ingredients and the adoption of food technologies, and has all the essentials to meet the taste of a demanding and aware audience in the UAE and worldwide.


Paul Hennessy, Chief Executive Officer, The ENTERTAINER

How has your brand kept pace with change and what are the innovations you are bringing to the F&B space regionally and globally?

Our app has evolved to make life easier for members and our partners, and we work hard to create a seamless experience for everyone.

"It’s crucial for a digital brand to change with the times - through data we’ve understood what the market wants and needs and that has helped guide our product strategy."

- Paul Hennessy, Chief Executive Officer, The ENTERTAINER

It’s crucial for a digital brand to change with the times - through data we’ve understood what the market wants and needs and that has helped guide our product strategy. We invest heavily into product and innovation to ensure we are leading the offers market. For us 2020 is a very exciting year with lots of key initiatives - some of them include integrated partners, business insights for our partners through our partner portal and reservations to name just a few.


Dr Zeelaf Munir, Managing Director and CEO, English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM)

With relation to biscuits and cakes, what are some of the key ingredients that you’ve added to your products in response to rising customer demand?

From its inception, EBM has taken the ownership and responsibility to provide wholesome and nourishing food-between-meals to people in Pakistan and beyond - an achievement that has made it the leading national food company in the country. Through our market-research, we have observed the evolving needs of our consumers - both at home and abroad - and have been able to fulfill the needs of those looking for high-quality innovative offerings, including ethnic varieties. It is, in fact, the perfect example of how an organisation led by marketing and innovation can engender a collaborative mindset and drive new product development.

"Through our market-research, we have observed the evolving needs of our consumers - both at home and abroad - and have been able to fulfill the needs of those looking for high-quality innovative offerings, including ethnic varieties."

- Dr Zeelaf Munir, Managing Director and CEO, English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM)

In keeping with this view, it has been a busy year full of new product development for us. In November, we introduced a new variant within our star seller range, Sooper Classic Chocolate. In our RIO range, we have added Cotton Candy - an exciting offering for children. Furthermore, in our chocolate segment, we have added Choco Lava - a centre-filled chocolate chip cookie and in Jam Delight we have introduced two new flavours, orange and blueberry.

After 54 years of operation, how do you manage to continuously pursue innovation within the F&B space?

It is one of our key strengths that all our R&D is done in house because we have stayed up-to-date with the technology available in the rest of the world and leveraged it to cater to international taste palate. Innovation and marketing are our forte. They are what help us make products that are nourishing, affordable and relatable.

Whenever we have introduced our products at international fairs, we have received a phenomenal response from consumers and prospective partners. International markets are and continue to remain our primary focus for business growth. We also believe in contributing to the national exchequer by increasing our exports.


Omar Mohd Salleh, Trade Commissioner, Malaysia Trade Centre Dubai

How is Malaysia Trade working to promote its clients at Gulfood?

Our participation in Gulfood is one of the many initiatives by the Malaysian government to promote our SMEs in this region. During the five-day event, we arrange B2B matchmaking sessions and a networking event with their regional counterparts to make it more fruitful for our suppliers. Many of the Malaysian companies have already benefitted from this matchmaking session in the past and have established successfully in this market. We also organise sessions with local authorities such as Dubai Municipality to give them understanding of the local rules and regulations pertaining to food exports.

"Our participation in Gulfood is one of the many initiatives by the Malaysian government to promote our SMEs in this region. During the five-day event, we arrange B2B matchmaking sessions and a networking event with their regional counterparts to make it more fruitful for our suppliers."

- Omar Mohd Salleh, Trade Commissioner, Malaysia Trade Centre Dubai


Esther Ritson-Elliott, Director of International Marketing and Communications, California Prunes

According to your research, what are some reasons behind the Middle East’s recent rise in health consciousness among consumers?

Consumers in the Middle East have many similarities with other consumers around the world: they recognise that a healthier diet and active lifestyle can help them look and feel better today, and help provide an enjoyable life for the future.

"The beauty of California Prunes is that they’re amazingly versatile, and a delicious addition to both sweet and savoury dishes."

- Esther Ritson-Elliott, Director of International Marketing and Communications, California Prunes

What are some interesting ways you’re seeing prunes being used in cooking?

The beauty of California Prunes is that they’re amazingly versatile, and a delicious addition to both sweet and savoury dishes. They can add a rounded sweetness to tagines and slow-cooked stews, and their texture can help to add a depth to vegetarian dishes. They pair extremely well with chocolate, and the renowned Italian master chocolatier, Stefano Collomb, has a long-held passion for creating exquisite masterpieces, pairing his premium-quality chocolate with California Prunes. For more inspiration, the California Prunes website is packed with delicious recipes.


Kamal Vachani, Group Director, Al Maya Group

What do legacy supermarket brands need to do to thrive in the e-commerce, delivery-driven era?

Today’s customers are educated, service-oriented and require value for money. As a leading retailer with more than four decades of experience servicing customers, we are constantly evaluating our approach. We are offering variety of products at an affordable price to customers.

"As a leading retailer with more than four decades of experience servicing customers, we are constantly evaluating our approach and offering a variety of products at affordable prices to customers."

- Kamal Vachani, Group Director, Al Maya Group

Tell us about the importance of your new premises at Technopark, and what your plans are for Expo 2020 Dubai

We moved to our new facility at National Industries Park (previously Technopark) in January 2019. It’s about a million square feet of area, having more than 50,000 pallet positions with three temperature zones - frozen, chilled and ambient. By moving to NIP, we have consolidated all our operations (offices and warehouses) under one roof, which has improved our efficiency and enhanced service level to the customers. Our new facility is in close proximity to the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai site. We have recently acquired some established brands from the market. We are quite hopeful that it would help us service customers better by providing their products of choice.

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