Speaking to ConfectioneryNews, show organizer Fabian Ströter of Koelnmesse said premium products were in higher demand this year as the fair took place during Dubai International Hospitality Week, attracting more speciality buyers.
Yummex Middle East concluded this week at Dubai’s World Trade Center after three days from September 18-20. The 11th edition of the event attracted one of the largest attendances to the show, formerly known as Sweets & Snacks Middle East. It was organzied jointly by Koelnmesse and the Dubai World Trade Center.
Premium chocolate and functional snacks
"They are looking for premium - particularly from Western countries, where there is high demand. Healthy snacking or healthy confectionery products are also becoming more popular,” said Ströter.
For example, Irish-based company Fulfil - a producer of vitamin and protein-fortified confectionery/snack bars was attracting a lot of buyer interest as it expands to the Middle East, following mainstream success in the UK. German-based brand Fitmeals also won yummex's best chocolate innovation award for its pea-protein, sugarfree Chocolate Crossies.
"It's not only for Dubai. Dubai is really a gateway to the greater region. In this emirate they are looking for premium products, but we are also targeting northern African and there's also demand for affordable confections,” said Ströter.
"We see high demand for chocolate products. Savory snacking is becoming quite popular, but chocolate is the number one sector here,” he continued.
The Middle East & North African (MENA) confectionery market (chocolate, gum and sugar confectionery) posted value sales of around $9bn in 2015, and is projected to grow by 20% up to 2018, according to Innova Market Insights.
Chocolate accounted for the most product introductions in MENA's confectionery market in 2014, making up 63% of launches.
Yummex this year was held in conjunction with new hospitality show GulfHost as well as The Speciality Food Festival and SEAFEX Middle East for the first time.
The organizers estimate there were 50,000 global visitors across all shows for the three days, including many confectionery buyers from the hotel industry and food services, such as Dubai Duty Free, Emirates Flight Catering, the Jumeirah Group, as well as big retail chains like Carrefour.
Last year yummex was held alongside processing and packaging show Gulfood Manufacturing, which is now taking place separately in late October this year.
"With the new concept we have setup this year, we see a lot of synergies to try to win even more countries targeting the hospitality sector,” said Ströter.
Challenges in Turkey
Yummex this year hosted 333 exhibitors from 43 countries, a slight decrease on 2016.
"We had some challenges in regional demand, especially from the Turkish market and GCC countries,” said Ströter.
But the show still hosted 18 national pavilions, including areas dedicated to US, German and French companies.
Attracting big players
The top five players in global confectionery did not have booths at yummex, but distributors for some of the large firms - such as Mondelēz's distributor for Milka and Oreo in the UAE, BGF Foodstuff Trading - were present.
"Big companies have quite good networks worldwide...so for most big brands it's not necessary to have a presence at the show," said Ströter.
General Mills and a few established companies such as Bazooka Candy and Jelly Belly and Katjes were present and Yummex is still trying to attract the likes of Mars and other big firms.
"It's not only about Dubai - it's about the markets we are also targeting like Northern and Central Africa,” said Ströter.
“We are delivering those buyers to Dubai, so they have the chance to enlarge their network," he said.
See HERE for yummex Middle East Innovation Award winners.