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For 182 days, our country set out its stall showcasing its strong suits at the World Exhibition in Dubai. Obviously our delicious food and drink was also prominently featured at the Belgian pavilion, under the banner of our promotional “Food.be – Small country. Great food.” brand. In addition, exports of Belgian food products to the Gulf Region are on the rise, which made the World Exhibition an excellent test event for the food companies attending. Here is a lookback at the opportunities the Dubai Exhibition provided.

Gulf Region shows a lot of potential

The United Arab Emirates and the other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) are an appealing market to food producers. From 2015 to 2020, exports to the Gulf Region went up by 57%. Which means the World Exhibition proved a great test event for food companies to gauge interest in their products.

During the World Exhibition, Dubai was also the setting for Gulfood, the Gulf Region’s largest food fair. The salon was attended by over 40 Belgian food companies to train the spotlight on their latest innovations and to do some networking. “The salon was a success”, Fevia’s International Business Manager Tine Vandervelden comments. “Exhibitors and visitors alike were very excited to be able to get back to physically attending a fair, after the raft of cancellations seen during the corona pandemic.”

Along with the Belgian exhibitors, Fevia, VLAM and the Flemish and Walloon exports agencies FIT and AWEX raised a toast to a successful salon at a networking reception held at the Belgian Pavilion. 

Click here for full Gulf Region exports figures

Belgian food famous all the way up to Mars

The Belgian food industry is very much an export champion. Yet, we need to ask ourselves if this is in keeping with pursuing a sustainable food system? Which is why Fevia Flanders, in association with FIT, organised an event at the Belgian pavilion which drew the attention of an international audience. Two Belgian companies showed how, through innovation and working with partners, they are set to produce food with fewer raw materials. To achieve that goal, they are prepared to go a long way … all the way to Mars!

“The two cases show how innovation is the key to sustainable exports”, Fevia Flanders’s secretary-general Nadia Lapage explains. The stories of Puratos and Bosaq bear a remarkable resemblance: research conducted in extreme and harsh conditions yields know-how and technology that enables us to operate more efficiently under normal production conditions and allows us to produce food with greatly reduced water consumption, for instance.

The Belgian pavilion as a signboard

Drawing in no fewer than 20 million visitors from every corner of the globe, the Belgian pavilion was the location par excellence to give pride of place to the best our country has to offer: fantastic food and drink. The food.be team asked visitors for their favourite Belgian foods: small country, great food!

The pavilion included a restaurant, a rooftop bar, a fries stall, a waffle stall and a chocolate and souvenir shop. The members attending the event were delighted with the exposure. The Belgian Chocolate Group was one of the members that ran the Chocolate Shop. CEO Marc Pauwel explains why the Gulf Region is such a crucial market to them and goes on to say that sugar free chocolate is in high demand in this part of the world.