A huge emphasis on organic, vegan and vegetarian food along with an increased focus on easy-to-use, convenient packaging of food items were the standout features of the recent Gulfood Food and Hospitality Show in Dubai, according to Food International CEO Adel Yousef.

The intrepid traveller was bursting with his hallmark enthusiasm when he arrived back in Auckland this week – laden with samples. He hit the ground running and as usual, was straight back into work reporting to staff on exciting new products and global developments in the food industry.

Adel has attended the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai many times. As the world’s largest annual food and hospitality show, many of the major movers and shakers on the international food scene (more than 97,000 visitors this time with 120 countries exhibiting) routinely make the trip.

“The movement which really stood out was the healthy food brigade with so many organic, vegan and vegetarian options on show. I was particularly intrigued by the 100% vegan sausages. Made in tofu, they were sold as plain or spicy and very tasty.”  (I can see my vegan friends salivating as I type …)

And of course, with Food International’s passion for cheese and being a market leader with our YOLO sliced cheeses here, he was fascinated with the selections on offer and how packaging was geared to ease of consumption.

Adel liked also the new concepts of including slices of three different types of cheese in one pack, as well as the new concept of sliced blue vein cheeses, while Feta, Emmental and other varieties were all perfectly cubed for easy use. With these products, you could slap up a classy cheeseboard in minutes!

Other cheese-based products included natural cheese spreads with flavours such as green pepper, cumin and herbs. The snack food market (or mezze as they’d say in the Middle East) was particularly outstanding with lots of new ideas.  You can now buy your olives in hang sell vacuum packs of 150 or 200gms and once again, up to three varieties in one pack.

 Adel is now in the negotiating stage with suppliers. As for me, as a reluctant cook and Unlikely Food Blogger, I can’t wait to see the new products coming in. They’ll suit me down to the ground – healthy and easy to use. Watch this space.

Watch out too for some recipe ideas with YOLO cheeses and news from Egypt. Adel has just been back in Cairo for the first time in seven years (and a mammoth eat-a-thon) and in blogs to follow I’ll tell you about changes in the food industry there.