Reflections from Gulfood: A gateway to global markets

Friday, 23 February 2024

Image of staff member Paul Flanagan

Paul Flanagan

Stakeholder Engagement Director (Dairy Sector Lead)

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Sitting in Dubai International Airport, amid the hustle and bustle of travellers from around the globe, I find a moment to reflect on my experience at Gulfood, the world's largest annual food and drink event.

Representing British exports, AHDB hosted two stands: one for dairy and another for red meat. Here are some thoughts on my first overseas exports show.

British quality shines

Despite our fondness for grumbling about the state of affairs back home, there's no denying the trust and admiration overseas buyers and distributors have for British food quality and standards.

While we may sometimes underestimate our worth on the international stage, the reality is that our reputation precedes us. It's time we start accentuating the positives of what we have to offer.

Awe-inspiring scale

The sheer magnitude of Gulfood left me awestruck. Coming from events like DairyTech, the contrast was staggering.

With over 100,000 attendees, 5,500 exhibitors and representation from 190 countries, navigating through the crowds was akin to a slow shuffle.

Yet, amid the throngs of people, I loved the opportunity to engage with individuals from diverse cultures, discussing tailored offerings for their markets.

Building relationships

While the show itself was instrumental in forging and renewing relationships, I found additional events equally valuable.

Special mentions go to events like the AHDB Dairy business breakfast and the Scotland Food and Drinks reception, where deeper connections were fostered. These moments allowed for more meaningful conversations and a better understanding of the needs of buyers and distributors.

AHDB's professionalism

Witnessing the AHDB team in action at Gulfood was a revelation. Their meticulous coordination and unwavering support not only made for the smooth execution of the event but also provided invaluable guidance on export processes and the effectiveness of levy spend.

Kudos to individuals like Lucy Randolph, Martin Eccles, Awal Fuseini and Jonathan Eckley for their dedication and expertise.

Looking ahead

With several events lined up in Singapore and Saudi Arabia, and a market visit to Vietnam, the future of dairy exports looks promising.

Government funding, including £1m allocated for dairy exports, coupled with AHDB's initiatives, such as the upcoming showcase in Great Britain, signify a concerted effort to bolster export volumes.

Moreover, investments in recruiting personnel in key markets like the USA, the Middle East, and Asia are poised to enhance support for GB dairy exporters.

In conclusion, my experience at Gulfood has underscored the importance of showcasing British excellence on the global stage and the invaluable role played by organisations like AHDB in facilitating exports.

For those interested in learning more about the support AHDB provide for meat and dairy exports, please don't hesitate to reach out. The journey towards expanding British exports continues, fuelled by quality, dedication and collaboration.

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