A total of 65 Malaysian companies concluded their participation at Gulfood 2016 recently with total sales of RM556.42 million being registered throughout the five-day event. Gulfood 2016 which took place at Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre (DIDEC) Dubai, was spearheaded by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE). This year marked Malaysia’s 12th participation in Gulfood and throughout the years, the event has offered Malaysian companies a platform to showcase a wide variety of food and beverages (F&B) products such as confectioneries, food ingredients, sauces and paste, ready-to-eat meals, frozen food items and palm oil products. The outcome of Malaysia’s participation in Gulfood remains bullish amid the low crude oil prices affecting the region. During the event, Malaysian companies received a total of 7,544 trade enquiries from various potential buyers ranging from food distributors, procurement centres from within the United Arab Emirates, the neighbouring Gulf countries, the Middle East, the Sub-Continent countries, Central Asia as well as Africa. This year’s event was attended by more than 5,000 exhibitors from over 120 countries. While newcomers were able to establish new contacts to secure orders, the repeat participants had utilised their involvement to launch their new innovative halal F&B products and renew export orders from existing clients as well as strengthen their brand presence in the market. For over a decade, MATRADE has been entrusted to lead the participation of competitive and innovative Malaysian F&B companies in the event. Complementing the participation of the companies, MATRADE had also brought together a number of Government agencies such the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC). Both agencies used the platform to promote the cluster of industries under their purview. According to the regional financial advisory entity, Alpen Capital in its Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) Food Industry Report, the region’s packaged food market will continue to boom due to the rising demand for healthy and international food from a growing base of expatriates as well as young consumers. Halal food imports into the GCC region are expected to double from US$25.8 billion in 2010 to US$53.1 billion by 2020, registering a 7.5 percent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR). Another similar entity, Al Masah Capital has also noted that the GCC food service market was valued US$18.8 billion in 2014 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.8 per cent to reach US$24.5 billion by 2018. Gulfood can be dubbed as one of the largest specialised food, beverages and equipment show in the world. Focusing on the global HALAL market, Gulfood is an ideal avenue for Malaysian companies to not only promote their halal ‘Made in Malaysia’ products but to also increase their market visibility in the Gulf region, Sub-Continent countries as well as Africa.