The fifteenth edition of Gulfood hosted 3,500 participants from 81 countries, in a successful show held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) between 21-24 February.

"Companies large and small from around the world are increasingly taking an interest in the Middle East. Whether they are food distributors looking for the latest products, or manufacturers looking for new markets, Gulfood is recognised as the number one platform to gain an insight, and a foothold, into one of the world's fastest growing markets," said Helal Saeed Almarri, CEO Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), the organiser of Gulfood.

Inaugurated by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and UAE minister of finance, this year's show occupied 1 million square feet of exhibition space, showing a 20% increase in exhibition halls.

According to an estimate by Business Monitor International, food expenditure in the UAE reached $6.78bn in 2009. The BMI research predicts this market will expand by 2.67% in 2010, making the market worth $6.96bn.

The UAE Government is taking steps to increase the number of food-manufacturing plants within the country and has invested $1.4bn since 1994 in this area. There are now around 150 food processing plants operational throughout the UAE.

The exhibition organisers arranged hosting of various seminars and conferences in this edition, including the first Gulfood Conference.

Dates and the venue of the next expo, Gulfood 2011 have not yet been announced.