The need for innovation in the global food and beverage industry is greater than ever before, with start-ups and early adopters of new technologies now in pole position to lead food production in a bold new direction, according to international thought leaders speaking at the 2nd Gulfood Manufacturing Foodtech Summit.

Held under the theme ‘Food Production Reinvented’, the industry-shaping Summit, which runs until 31 October at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), unites global F&B sector heavyweights for an in-depth examination of major issues reshaping a fast-moving, ultra-competitive marketplace defined by greater consumer demand for healthier and more environmentally conscious products, delivered quicker and without compromising on quality.

Sudhakar Gupta of UAE-based IFFCO, an innovative and integrated multi-food products group, told ‘The CxO Panel: Revisiting the Investment Scenario for F&B Manufacturing’ that basic food technologies must be refined to keep pace with rising food quality demands in an era of increased delivery options. Gupta added that industry entrants are showing greater agility and stealing a march on more established competition.

“Market-specific innovation for developing and developed markets is essential and gradually taking off. Start-ups are really shaking up the F&B sector. They are coming with a lot of disruptions and innovations,” said Gupta. “Big brands need to be watchful and open to collaborating on solutions.”

Andrey Dvoychenkov, Managing Director, Nielsen, echoed Gupta’s sentiments, insisting that smaller and “more niche” brands are winning consumers intent on products with sustainable values and health benefits. Citing Nielsen’s global research, Dvoychenkov said: “More than 75% of worldwide consumers want products with a more sustainable ethos. Chocolates and biscuits are two of the biggest drivers in food innovation.”

Brad Barbera, Director of Innovation and Senior Advisor – The Good Food Institute, examined the ‘Paradigm Shift in the F&B Industry’ and told Summit attendees that the food production sector is in great need of innovative technology. Barbera urged food producers to adhere to four key drivers for new food tech: local and environmental issues, population growth and food security, industrial and societal health issues, and animal welfare.

Meanwhile, Lars Holmquist, from Swedish packaging heavyweight Tetra Pak, believes consumer demand for sustainability will continue to dictate the future for packaging. Holmquist forecasted that 90% of packaging will be recyclable and 90% of packaging will have a “unique digital identity” by 2030. With food delivery demands reaching new heights, Holmquist revealed USD100 billion will be invested in unmanned F&B delivery solutions over the next decade.

Day two of the 2nd Gulfood Foodtech Summit begins at 10.30am on 31 October in DWTC’s Al Multaqa Ballroom, with key panels including ‘AI Tech Talks: Leveraging AI to enter a new era in F&B Industry’ and ‘Transforming food safety and quality standards’, which will be delivered by a panel of experts from PepsiCo, MARS and Leonidas.

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