UAE’s strategy for food security is to create dual hubs for food trade and innovative arid farming, says HE Mariam Bint Mohammed Al Mheiri at 2nd Future Food Forum 2021

33

2nd Future Food Forum at Expo 2020 Dubai discusses innovative steps to transform
the future of UAE’s F&B manufacturing sector 

  • HE Mariam Bint Mohammed Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change & Environment, delivers opening address 
  • Saleh Lootah, Chairman of the UAE F&B Manufacturers Group, calls for driving innovation, strengthening national talent and promoting food security as strategic priorities 
  • Over 500 industry leaders are attending the two-day Forum to share best practices, review future trends and outline strategic roadmap to strengthen the UAE’s F&B business sector 
  • UAE F&B Manufacturers Group signs MoU with Dubai Human Resources Authority to support Emiratisation and create jobs for Emiratis in the F&B sector 

Dubai, UAE: The second edition of the Future Food Forum 2021 opened today at the Dubai Exhibition Centre, Expo 2020 Dubai to a rousing response from high-ranking government officials and business leaders, who discussed innovative strategies and action plans to transform the future of the UAE’s food and beverage manufacturing sector. 

H.E. Mariam Bint Mohammed Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change & Environment, delivered the opening address. She said the strategy of the UAE to ensure national food security is to create two hubs – one to promote food trade to meet the varied food preference of the 200 nationalities living in the country by offering a diverse food basket, and two, to promote knowledge and innovation to encourage localised farming of food products most suited for hot arid regions.

H.E. Al Mheiri said: “We have learnt so much over the past months following the pandemic and the private sector has played an important role in ensuring that UAE residents had access to food at all times. The lessons learnt, knowledge gained and the innovative practices that were adopted will be key to the transformation of the F&B sector. The UAE is putting all efforts to transition to sustainable food systems and in this the private sector has an important role to play. As a nation, we want to be hub for food trade, bringing in the needed volumes, and at the same time boost local manufacturing and promote innovative practices on how to grow food in hot arid climates.”

Welcoming the delegates, Saleh Lootah, Chairman of the UAE F&B Manufacturers Group, said: “We are honoured to host the second edition of the Food Forum 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai, putting the spotlight of the world on our nation’s fast-growing F&B manufacturing sector. In the post-pandemic era, the industry has proved to be the most resilient, supporting economic growth, creating new jobs, and promoting the national small and medium businesses sector. 

“The remarkable growth by the UAE in its overall food security environment, evident in the Global Food Security Index 2021, highlights the role of our industry in supporting the nation’s food security strategy. The Future Food Forum presents in-depth insights on the value of innovation, sustainability and digitalisation to transform the F&B sector for a new era of growth. As we celebrate the nation’s 50th year of formation, we will work together to support the Operation 300bn strategy and the Make it in the Emirates initiative.”

In a milestone, in the presence of the H.E. Al Mheiri and Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Saleh Lootah signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Abdulla Al Falasi, Director General of Dubai Government Human Resources Department and Vice Chairman of the Emirati Human Resources Development Council, to empower Emirati nationals to play a key role in the food sector, and increase the percentage of Emirati workforce in the food sector to 5 per cent in the next five years. 

In his keynote address, Abdulla Bin Damithan, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, DP World UAE & JAFZA, said: “Food security and sustainability cannot be achieved by just producing right quantity but we also need to ensure that the supply reaches those who need them at the right time. We must continue to strengthen collaboration and continuous engagement with governments and key trading partners to foster our global goal of protecting the food supply chain. Food security is a serious concern and it is time to commit ourselves to sharing our resources and expertise to ensure that our future generation is well protected.”

Wael Ismail, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, PEPSICO, in a keynote address, underlined the need to look at sustainable food systems by taking a holistic view that considers not only the impact on climate change but also gender equality and inclusivity. “Food security is not a one-dimensional issue and we must look at it from a bigger light. What we need is end-to-end transformation to ensure we have the right positive impact on the planet and people.”

More than 500 industry leaders are attending the two-day event, which features high-level keynote addresses, in-depth panel discussions, and ‘lightning talk’ sessions that cover diverse aspects of the F&B manufacturing value chain. The core themes being discussed include the value-add of digitalisation, sustainability considerations, the role of innovation and the need to promote a culture of inclusiveness to mark the transformation of the industry.