World's biggest annual food fair starts amid rising supply worries

# 25 February 2013 22:23 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The world's biggest food fair Gulfood opened Monday with the participation of over 4,200 companies from 110 countries as population prospects indicate an increasing food shortage for the globe, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The four-day fair was kicked off by Dubai deputy ruler Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, and Brunei, Ecuador and Lithuania as well as 1,462 new exhibitors are participating for the first time.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikh Lubna Al-Quassimi said in her opening speech at the adjacent Global Food Leaders Summit that the overall arid and sunny Gulf Arab region, with its huge deserts, has to import 90 percent of its food consumption.

According to the UAE's biggest bank Emirates NBD, even countries that have sufficient food and water reserves cannot count on this advantage in the future.

Mark McFarland, chief investment strategist with Emirates NBD private banking, said that water and food scarcity is on the rise because the expanding middle class are switching from carbohydrate- based food to a protein diet, meaning meat, and cattle raising require more nutrition and hence more water.

McFarland added that for one kg of beef, 4,000 liters of water is needed, while for one kg of wheat only 400 liters of water is needed.

Sheikh Lubna said that the global middle class will increase by 700 million people by 2020, the same time when the UN predicts the world population to grow to 8.3 billion people, up from 7 billion in 2012.

The forecast growth of the world population led Vishal Tikku, director of mideast with Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods), to say "the consumer will dictate future global food trends, not the producer or the agricultural industry."

The Gulfood, which covers a record space of 113,398 square meters, runs through Thursday. Some 70,000 visitors are expected.

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