Food manufacturers should constantly evolve the way they make and market their products to tap into the booming Middle East food and beverage sector, or face the possibility of being forced out of the market altogether, said an industry expert.
Xavier Terlet, CEO of the global food industry consultants XTC World Innovation, said that as shifting Middle East consumer preferences steer toward more healthy and convenient options, food makers will need to keep on innovating to stay ahead of the curve.
“Middle East consumers, as with consumers all over the world look for pleasure before anything else when they eat food,” said Terlet. “And the key for pleasure is to provide something different and new, because eating the same food over and over again is boring.
“The food industry has to propose new products to the consumer – products with new tastes and health guarantees that come with convenient packaging to match the new way of life. A food company with no innovation strategy will surely be condemned.”
Terlet is the president of the judging panel for the SIAL Innovation Award, a feature of SIAL Middle East 2013, set to take place from November 24 to 26 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).
SIAL Middle East is the region’s fastest growing professional business platform for the food, drink and hospitality industries and is held in strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA).
The award will showcase 70 of the most innovative food and beverage products out of 120 submissions, including winners from the global competitions at SIAL events in China, Brazil, Canada, the Philippines, and Paris. All finalists will be displayed at the dedicated Innovation Area at the event.
The shortlisted products include a sherbet flavoured fruit drink from Azerbaijan; banana with peach flavoured baby food from the Czech Republic; canned fishless tuna from the USA; and Benecol milk from the UAE-based Al Ain Dairy company, which is clinically proven to reduce cholesterol.
Joanne Cook, SIAL Middle East director, said: “All products at the Innovation Area at SIAL Middle East are new and have not been repackaged or rebranded; the finalists are truly unique products that provide genuine health benefits brought about by extensive research and development.”
The fourth edition of the event includes a three-day conference, a hosted buyer programme and La Cuisine by SIAL international chef competition.