Middle East Food Forum 2019
- May 14, 2019
-- The 4th Middle East Food Forum (MEFF), co-located with The Restaurant Show, supported by Dubai Municipality, was recently held at Festival Arena Exhibition Centre and was carried out with grand success. The event presents a conducive platform for operators in the F&B industry to gain exposure and meet with the key decision makers in the Middle East.
The conference had over 65 top F&B industry professionals as speakers and panelists across the 3-day conference and addressed a wide range of topics. The conference entailed sessions by keynote speakers, panel discussions, as well as pitch presentations. Day 1 of the conference shed light upon the current F&B market landscape in the region, financing in the sector, as well as the role of smart marketing to create a digital identity. Spotlight speaker, Darren Tse, Commercial Director Concessions, Expo2020
discussed about creating Dubai a World Class Gastronomy Destination and establishing it as an all-inclusive tourist destination with the on-set of Expo2020. Commenting on the same, he said, "With 190 countries coming together to showcase their distinguished cultures primarily through food, the Expo 2020 is an excellent opportunity to celebrate culture and bring forth innovation through 50 million meal occasions from all these countries. The F&B administration at the Expo has worked tirelessly to warrant the provision of an exceptional experience for exhibitors and visitors alike".
The key takeaways from Day 1 were the overarching global trends in the sector and innovative solutions, such as the use of "Dark Kitchens". Additionally, interesting discussions around government regulations and licensing controls on the number of restaurants should be allowed to open, along with the financial implications that must be considered in the F&B sector were also conducted.
Discussions on Day 2 of the conference were centered around the themes of food delivery, franchising and food trucks. As technology is transforming the way businesses traditionally deal with consumers, it also opens opportunities for all-sized restaurants to enter into previously inaccessible markets. Moreover, emerging platforms such as Zomato and Deliveroo present added opportunities for restaurants to merge with them as the new culinary experience is evidently shifting from "kitchen to table" to "kitchen to home". In addition to this, experts also comment on the importance of keeping the food safety systems intact, by effectively utilizing management systems such as Food Watch. With almost 20 years of experience in Franchising, Mr. Rudolf Kotik, Founder and CEO, R.K. Franchise Consultancy
discussed about the meticulous process of expanding a business in the UAE and globally.
With the most interesting range of topics lined up for day 3, the core themes discussed were on identifying opportunities in the sector, innovation and women in F&B. The first panel moderated by David Macadam, CEO, The Middle East Council of Shopping Centers
, revolved discussions around the current market situation, the opportunities and the challenges of every business owners in the F&B. Expert participants in the panel emphasize on the importance of location and the need to be innovative with offerings to achieve success. Further, they also point out the possible reasons for failure; unrealistic pay expectations and oversupply to name a few. In the panel conducted on Women leaders in F&B, each speaker shared their experiences from the past where they had to deal with inequality and discrimination at work, and the rise of women in F&B relative to when they started off. The conference was concluded with a session on the buzzword in every industry today – "social media and influencers"
. Interestingly, this panel was equally divided between a group of influencers and business owners. Each of them shared their unfiltered takes and views on paid advertisement, fake online ratings and unbiased reviews.
Overall, the 3-day conference addressed a comprehensive range of topics and provided deep insights on the trends in the F&B industry, delivered by the brightest lights operating in the sector.