Posted on September 16, 2014

The GCC’s rising per capita seafood consumption will come under the microscope at this year’s SEAFEX 2014, as a host of regional and international aquaculture companies showcase technologies - such as hatcheries, harvesting of plants and animals, processing and trading - designed to enhance future production of regional seafood products.

According to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the Middle East - particularly the GCC – saw its per capita average seafood consumption almost double from 2010 to 2013. With the regional average only 14.4kg per year back in 2010, the UAE and Oman’s per capita seafood consumption were among the world’s highest at 28.6kg per year last year. Significantly, the GCC’s per capita average seafood consumption is expected to increase year-on-year in-line with Gulf countries’ population growth - the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) forecasts the GCC population will reach 53.5 million by 2020 rapid economic development, market demand and robust regional logistics capabilities.

To meet the increasing regional demand for seafood, various GCC governments have already implemented developmental initiatives designed to foster greater domestic production. In the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, more investments are being directed towards aquaculture - the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes and the ocean. The main aquaculture producers in the region are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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GCC countries are starting to invest in aquaculture projects to meet the rising seafood consumption. Earlier this year, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture invested an additional US$10.6 billion into aquaculture projects to produce one million tonnes of fish in the next 16 years, while the Omani government has already granted aquaculture licenses to 19 projects worth US$332 million in 2014, with additional plans to invest US$1.3 billion in fisheries’ development by 2020.

In line with regional eating habits, the 2014 edition of SEAFEX – the region's biggest international trade fair for the seafood industry – is 56 per cent larger than its launch event in 2012. “Our largest edition of SEAFEX underlines its position as a strategic platform supporting the region’s growing seafood requirements,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, DWTC. “The show is widely-regarded for facilitating trade and delivering exceptional business opportunities in a market top of attention for global manufacturers.

The exhibition, which brings together international exhibitors from seafood-related industries including hotels, restaurants, caterers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors and food processors, will tackle the increasing requirements of regional producers, buyers and suppliers, as well as showcase a broad range of new-to-market seafood products. With more than 100 exhibitors from 22 countries confirming participation in the November 9 -11 show at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), new pavilions include Greece, Spain, Peru, Chile, Thailand, Taiwan and Iran. SEAFEX has also partnered with Dubai Fishermen’s Co-operative Society along with Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.

Regional aquaculture projects will take centre-stage at this year’s event with Emirates Aquatech, the world’s largest sustainable caviar farm, exhibiting alongside ASMAK, the region’s largest aquaculture player, and Gulf Seafood, one of the Middle East’s leading seafood processors.

“Aquaculture programmes are fast becoming one of the most effective and preferred techniques to meet the increasing demand for seafood products worldwide” said Tarun Rao, Commercial Manager, Gulf Seafood. “As a regional leader in seafood processing, trading and distribution services, SEAFEX 2014 is the perfect platform for Gulf Seafood to engage our target audience, outline our expertise and services, and share knowledge with international industry leaders.”

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SEAFEX 2014 will also recognise the most innovative new products across the seafood industry at the ‘SEAFEX Seafood Awards’. Elsewhere, the ‘SEAFEX Seafood Summit’ will take place in collaboration with The Association of International Seafood Industry Professionals and will see world leaders and experts focus on the importance of sustainable fishing in the region along with a series of talks on how to regulate overfishing and manage fish stocks for future generations.

Open from 10am-6pm on November 9-10 and 10am-5pm on November 11, SEAFEX is organised alongside The Speciality Food Festival and Sweets and Snacks Middle East. The three niche food shows are for trade and business professionals only. General public and persons under the age of 21 will not be permitted entry. Registration is available at the show upon proof of trade status.

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