Dubai Industrial City, one of the largest industrial hubs in Dubai and a member of TECOM Group, has leveraged the Gulfood 2020 platform to reiterate that the Fourth Industrial Revolution can accelerate the UAE’s drive to become a world leader in food security.

The growing business hub, comprising more than 280 factories and over 730 business partners, welcomed key stakeholders in the food and beverage industry to its pavilion at Gulfood, running from 16 to 20 February at Dubai World Trade Centre, to discuss food security and innovation.

Business partners and leading industry experts joined DI Talks to highlight how technology can play a crucial role in increasing sustainable food production and help the UAE become the highest-ranked country in the Global Food Security Index by 2051 – an initiative presented in 2018 by Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security.

Saud Abu Al Shawareb, Managing Director of Dubai Industrial City, said: “As the UAE aims to lead the world in food security, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence can – and already are – being used to reduce food waste, boost recycling and spur innovation in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“To compete globally in this dynamic environment, we provide our business partners with the opportunity to collaborate, gain insight and share expertise. DI Talks is a great example of the way we bring our business partners and wider industry together at Gulfood to share ideas that contribute to the UAE’s knowledge economy and goals as envisioned in the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030.”

Barakat Quality Plus, Al Barakah Dates, Tanmiah Food Group, in5 startup Winnow – winner of the Gulfood Startup Programme 2020, Global Shipping & Logistics, and Terraloop participated in DI Talks as part of Dubai Industrial City’s programme of events at Gulfood.

A panel discussion on 19 February, the closing day of DI Talks’ action-packed four-day speaker series, drew the participation of Gurumurthi Shankar, Chief Operating Officer of Global Shipping & Logistics, Prapthi Rai, Head of Quality at Barakat Quality Plus, and Ignacio Ramirez, Managing Director MENA at Winnow, on the insightful topic of innovation in the UAE food sector.

Ignacio Ramirez said: “A huge trend in the food industry is the deployment of disruptive technologies to help businesses leverage the power and data and analytics. We have worked with clients who wasted 30% of their food but have saved millions of dirhams by implementing artificial intelligence to reduce waste. As the UAE imports 90% of the food we consume, reducing food waste is a major factor that can help companies boost margins and become more sustainable.”

Prapthi Rai added: “There are three challenges facing the global industry: food fraud, traceability and food waste. Traceability is important to consumers who want to know where their food comes from but tracing it from farm to fork is difficult for smaller growers. And as food waste contributes to global carbon dioxide emissions, it is a threat to environmental sustainability and we all need to take urgent steps to curb it.”

For his part, Gurumurthi Shankar said: “The pace of change in the food industry is rapid. Millennials are changing consumer habits around the world and everyone has to catch up. In terms of food innovation, new products are being developed to reduce food waste and one example is the utilisation of technologies such as 3D printing to create everything from meat to cakes.”

Terraloop founder Ryan Ingram kicked off DI Talks on 16 February with a talk explaining how his consultancy had worked with local waste management agencies and luxury hotels in the UAE to reduce food waste.

Yousuf Saleem, Managing Director, Al Barakah Dates, highlighted how the UAE company plans to tap into the demand for plant-based food in the region by producing fibre-rich date powder as a commercially viable alternative to sugar on 17 February.

With the annual cost of food waste standing at more than US$1 trillion globally, Tjalling van den Burger, Business Development Manager at Winnow, highlighted how the company has helped leading UAE companies use artificial intelligence to reduce food waste and save millions of dollars on 18 February.

Meanwhile, Steve Ross, Director of Tanmiah Food Group’s Added Value Products Division, spoke about the challenges facing the global meat industry and how the vertically integrated business is working to help its customers, the community and the environment.

In her talk, Prapthi Rai of Barakat discussed the trend of supermarkets rejecting perfectly edible but misshapen, blemished, irregular or unattractive fruit and vegetables, and emphasised the need to transform mindsets to reduce food waste.

Altaf Jasnaik, Head of Marketing at Global Shipping & Logistics, which operates a 1.8 million sq ft facility in Dubai Industry City, concluded DI Talks with a speech on how the company has integrated augmented reality to optimise efficiency.

Strategically located between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Dubai Industrial City provides smart infrastructure and state-of-the-art warehousing and industrial facilities that support the continued growth of an advanced manufacturing sector in the UAE.

As a key stakeholder and enabler of the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030, one of the core focus areas for the business hub is food and beverage manufacturing and food security.

Source: APCO Worldwide