By Roderick Abad

23 February 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

TWENTY-FIVE Filipino food companies that participated in Gulfood—the biggest annual food expo in the Middle East and North African (Mena) region—seek to generate at least $90-million sales.

Gulfood was held on February 17 until February 21 at the Sheikh Rashid Hall, Dubai World Trade Center, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Led by the Department of Trade and Industry, through the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (DTI-Citem), these top and emerging food firms represented the country to showcase locally produced top halal-certified food selections, including processed fruits and vegetables, marine products and coconut products.

“The Philippines’s leading and emerging food brands took on the export demands of Middle East countries to widen the country’s reach on the existing Filipino niche and mainstream market in the Middle East,” said Pauline Suaco-Juan, executive director of DTI-Citem.

Themed “The World of Food. The World of Good,” the five-day event featured current consumer trends and innovations. It also sought to present new trade opportunities, as well as cooking demonstrations by world-renowned culinary masters.

As in the previous editions, the Philippine participation in Gulfood sought to widen the country’s market share in the global halal trade. 

Hexa Research said the international halal-food market is seen to reach $2.55 trillion by 2024 on the back of rising demand for the consumption of halal meat.

“In the Philippines’s 14th participation, we will feature seven new companies in Gulfood which have products that fit the demand for halal-certified tropical, ready-to-eat and healthy food selections across the Mena region,” she said.

The participating Philippine companies included Columbia International Food Products Inc. with its tropical sweets and chewables; Alsons Aquaculture Corp. with its Sarangani Bay milkfish; Fitrite Inc. with its  tropical juices, dried fruits and sauces; Leonie Agri Corp. with its food supplement and organic products; LTH Food Industries Inc. with its flavored creamers and cupcakes; Monde Nissin Corp. with its snacks and confectionaries; and Phil-Union Frozen Foods Inc. with its premium canned pasteurized crabmeat and frozen seafood products.

The repeating Filipino delegates were Brandexports Philippines Inc., Celebes Coconut Corp., Century Pacific Food Inc., Gem Foods International Inc., Krystle Exports Philippines Inc., Mama Sita’s, Marikina Food Corp., Market Reach International Resources, Mega Global Corp., Philippine Grocers Food Exports Inc., Pixcel Transglobal Foods Inc., Profood International Corp., Q-Phil Products International, Sagrex Foods Inc., San Miguel Pure Foods Co., See’s International Food, SL Agritech Corp. and Super Q.

“The sheer number of returning companies in Gulfood under the Philippine delegation indicated the great opportunities present in the Middle East, as well as the high confidence in the marketing boost that DTI-Citem gives to its stakeholders,” Suaco-Juan said.

“These players were the same companies that started their export journey in Ifex Philippines and gained experience in dealing with international buyers in our signature event. Now, they are taking it up a notch in the global arena,” she added.

Gulfood is one of the biggest fairs for the food and hospitality industries in the world held yearly in Dubai. 

Its previous edition was attended by 98,000 visitors and participated in by 5,000 exhibitors from 198 countries worldwide.

During the time, the Filipino delegation made $89.7 million worth of total sales, leveraging on some of the country’s best-selling products, including coconut and its by-products, rice, mangoes, canned fruits, canned seafood and fermented marine products.

The Philippine participation in Gulfood 2019 was organized by Citem, in partnership with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Dubai.

Citem organizes Ifex Philippines, the Philippines’s biggest export‐oriented food show, happening from May 24 to 26.