From 7 to 9 November, 11 food companies from Latvia will participate in the international fairs ‘YUMMEX’ and ‘The Speciality Food Festival’, which will take place alongside EXPO 2020 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The fairs will focus on products such as the gourmet segment, free-from food, ethnic products, sweets, confectionery, ice cream, organic food and drinks, etc. After the fairs, most companies will continue their participation in a food trade mission.
At ‘YUMMEX’ and ‘The Speciality Food Festival’, Latvia will be represented by ‘Pērnes L’, ‘Pūre Chocolate’, ‘Snacks and More’, ‘Lat Eko Food’, ‘Mottra’, ‘King Coffee Service’, ‘Blue Circle’, ‘Fruitis Foods’, ‘Ricberry’, ‘Madonas Fire Cheese’ and ‘Smartfoody’.
"Latvian food exports have great potential in the UAE and the Middle East market, and for several years entrepreneurs have been showing interest in the market by active participation in Gulfood, the largest industry trade fair. These fairs are the biggest in the region for their respective food segments and are attended by a wide range of potential partners. This year's events are held in parallel with EXPO, and it is expected that the exhibitions will attract even more international visitors, opening opportunities not only in the UAE and the Middle East, but also in other markets," says Anna Daudziņa, Senior Project Manager of the Export Promotion Division at the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA).
‘YUMMEX’ is the Middle East and North Africa region’s largest sweets and snacks fair, it is organised in partnership with Koelnmesse, organiser of the popular ‘ISM fair’. The product groups represented in the fair include chocolate and chocolate products, sweets, biscuits, savoury snacks, natural sweets and snacks, breakfast cereals and breakfast snacks, frozen and fresh confectioneries, ice cream, etc. The 2019 fair attracted 252 companies and 9,000 visitors from 111 countries.
Meanwhile, ‘The Speciality Food Festival’ is the Middle East and North Africa region's leading gourmet food fair, which attracts a wide range of visitors from different food segments. The fair showcases premium products, beverages, ethnic food, free from and organic food, Halal products, rare ingredients and spices, etc.
At the end of the fairs, LIAA will launch a trade mission for the food industry, which will include product presentations and B2B events at the Latvian Pavilion, as well as organising meetings for Latvian companies with potential partners from the UAE market.
Rihards Zvērs, Export Sales Manager at ‘Pūre Chocolate’, explains: "Of course, we hope to find partners in the Middle East region, but the only way to agree on possible cooperation is through face-to-face meetings, so it is important to go to such trade missions. As in all industries, competition is fierce, and if a company wants to expand its range of sweets, it is much easier to choose something from the existing range. Therefore, we go to Dubai with a unique product and our experience and success stories from other markets. For several years ‘Pūre’ has been working with various international companies including supermarket chains, the world’s second largest retailer ‘Costco’ and the airline ‘Lufthansa’, to whom we supply products. We are also one of two companies in Latvia with ISS Food certification. This certainly helps to establish oneself in a new market."
Rihards Zvērs emphasises that to compete on the international market, a product must be at least world-class, if not a little higher, in all aspects, where ingredients and their origins, as well as packaging, are equally important. ‘Pūre Chocolate’ is proud of its 100% compostable packaging and the unique drying technology for berries and fruit for truffle decoration, which allows the moisture to be extracted from the products while preserving their taste and colour.
But Ancis Romanovskis, CEO of coffee and coffee accessories retailer ‘King Coffee Service’, says that he has been going to Golfood for five years, which has given some recognition in the region, but there is still a lot to do in the speciality niche, where the company hopes to find partners.
"I have business experience in the Middle East market, having lived there for four years, so I am already familiar with the market. If we look at the statistics, the Middle East speciality market is the fastest growing in the world, and it is a solvent market, which is particularly important in the premium segment. So you just have to be there. It is more difficult for speciality companies to enter a new market than for wholesalers, who only have to agree on price and volume. We need someone who knows how to work with a product in the local market. We are really happy to have a consultant from LIAA who understands what we need and how to bring us together, so that both sides do not waste time, if we do not meet the needs of a local company, because maybe we are just too small to produce the volume needed or compete with local suppliers. It is too early to tell what this mission will bring, but we have done as much as we can and with as much determination as possible, so we hope for a good outcome," says Ancis Romanovskis.