Big Interview: Mark Napier

International Confectionery sat down with Mark Napier, Event Director for Gulfood Manufacturing, to discuss how Gulfood is tackling industry issues.

What can we expect from Gulfood and ISM ME this year? 

The 28th edition of Gulfood will continue to unite food and beverage communities around the world, and act as an industry trend springboard and a global sourcing powerhouse. We’re bringing together over 4000 exhibitors from more than 120 countries, industry thought leaders, changemakers, and the greatest chefs in the world to inspire industry-wide transformation and tackle major global challenges and trends, including e-commerce, zero-waste, sustainability, technology, and more. Gulfood is a globally recognised food and beverage business platform where F&B prices are benchmarked and a large volume of business is facilitated. I am confident Gulfood 2023 will open with its most expansive exhibitor line-up yet. 

Additionally, this year ISM ME will lay special emphasis on chocolate, confectionery, desserts, snack foods, ice cream, fine bakery, and dates & date palm products. We will have our Global Date Market, specifically tailored for the world’s highest date supply and consumption markets, and have the full scale of date fruit varieties, flavours, and innovations for exploration at the show. 

You can expect to see governments, businesses, F&B communities, and social organisations working closely together and stepping up a collective ambition to address the most significant threats and opportunities to our future to ensure a swift transition to a greener, safer, and more stable food ecosystem for all. 

What are the biggest themes at the shows? 

Our goal is to refuel the industry by exploring themes such as resilience, sustainability and innovation. We will continue to serve as an industry trend launching pad as well as a driving force of technology, supply chain solutions, innovation and addressing pressing global issues with the hope to incite tangible action from the industry. We will also further develop multiple successful platforms that were launched in 2022 including YouthX – aimed at empowering youth and fuelling the food and beverage industry’s future.   

An important theme that can be identified at ISM ME is a greater emphasis on the rise of organic, vegan, and vegetarian products as well as healthy snacks and indulgences, we are also looking at plant-based confectionaries, especially in chocolates and chocolate products, with more and more cow’s milk and dairy-free alternatives. Also, ingredient or product origin transparency is becoming increasingly critical. Therefore, we are also focusing on clean labels in the sweets and snacks industry, which is becoming progressively prevalent. 

This is the 28th edition of Gulfood that you’ve run. Are there any key lessons you’ve learned over the course of organising it? 

Organising events is a constant learning process as markets are continually evolving and we as organisers need to keep pace with that. It makes shows such as this exciting, challenging and immensely rewarding. 

Yet one constant remains – our customers. If we listen to our customers across the entire value chain, we can serve them better and deliver the business they deserve...

To read more see our latest issue here.

Media contact

Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Confectionery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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