The 21st Middle East Organic and Natural Products Expo, held at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from December 12-14, 2023, has concluded with resounding success, marking a significant milestone in the organic and natural products industry. Being the exclusive trade event dedicated to the Middle East and Africa, the Middle East Organic & Natural Expo seamlessly brought together some of the finest brands and products around the world from Food & Beverages, Health & Wellness, Beauty & Cosmetics, Agriculture & Environment, and Sustainable Living sectors. This year’s Organic and Natural Products expo, recognised as the largest and most comprehensive b2b sourcing platform in the Middle East, featured a remarkably large number of suppliers and producers with over 300 exhibitors from 63 countries. The grand inauguration was officiated by H.E. Eng. Dawood Abdulrahman AlHajri, Director General of Dubai Municipality.
A standout accomplishment of this year’s event was its incredible expansion, by not just doubling in size but attracting a substantial increase in both exhibitors and attendees. The event saw an astounding rise in the number of participating countries, reflecting the global significance and appeal of the Middle East Organic and Natural Products expo. Notably, bookings for next year have already surged to an impressive 42%. This year’s expo was without doubt, the largest and most attended in the event’s 20-year history. The expo was 102% larger in size and surpassed our goals in trade buyer attendance which further cements the importance of the expo as the largest sourcing platform in the region. With the increase in b2b visitors from across the region and beyond, we have witnessed a trend of Eastern European and Indian buyers sourcing from the expo which took visiting countries from 44 to 59.
Nick Singer, an exhibitor representing Aroma Stick from Switzerland, emphasized the pivotal role of the event, stating, “For us, this event was of utmost importance as we extend our presence to countries like Brazil, the United States, and several GCC nations. The show was impeccably organised, resulting in a plethora of inquiries and garnering significant interest from potential distributors. It truly exceeded our expectations!” Our focus had been in providing a 365-day export promotion platform which resulted in exhibitors receiving monthly buyer leads curated by our buyer teams and online sales and enquiries through our wholesale eCommerce portal arabianorganics.com throughout the year before the expo. We introduced pre-scheduled appointments between exhibitors and buyers that saw 1,900 meetings scheduled before the show was opened. A further 800 onsite meetings between exhibitors and VIP Buyers took place at the expo which increased the effectiveness of expo participation.
These advancements distinguished itself as the primary platform in the region for suppliers and manufacturers from 63+ countries to connect with buyers, including retailers, importers, distributors, re-exporters, private labels, and HORECA. The event showcased continuous participation from top producing countries such as Greece, Türkiye, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and Iran. Especially, Korea, Italy, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Ghana, Turkmenistan, Bhutan, China, and the Philippines made their debut through their national country pavilions.
Global debuts by top suppliers featured prominently at the expo, highlighting the Middle East as one of the fastest-growing markets for sustainable and clean products. These debuts encompassed a diverse array of specialty tea and coffee, food ingredients, clean beauty products, immune-boosting health supplements, and organic fertilizers. Our debutant exhibitor, Sang W Kim, Planning Director from the Korean Ginseng Association said, “Participating in the show was a fantastic experience! We connected with numerous buyers, including wholesalers, importers, and retailers, who showed a remarkable interest in Korean Ginseng. These buyers predominantly hailed from the UAE, the GCC region, and various European countries. Six of our companies took part this year, and based on the positive outcomes, we plan to return next year to engage with even more potential buyers. The onsite meetings proved to be invaluable, and the show serves as an effective platform to easily discover potential buyers, a task that is generally quite challenging.”
Our other 1st time exhibitor, H.E. Alexi Gunasekera, Consulate General of Sri Lanka, and representative from the Export Development Board, at the Sri Lanka Pavilion, happily stated, “16 of our companies joined the show, showcasing an array of products ranging from value-processed foods to farmer fertilizers. This event facilitated valuable connections with top potential supermarket chains and organic food and vegetable growers. I am confident that, from this point onward, the market can be leveraged to extend our reach to other prominent GCC countries. I was impressed by the enthusiastic crowd and the exceptional organization of the show!”
Also, to enhance the overall experience, this year’s Expo introduced several captivating additions. Among these innovations were the Startup Zone, a dedicated area showcasing emerging businesses; the Fresh & Perishables Corner, a section spotlighting the latest in fresh produce; the Tea & Coffee Section, providing a specialized focus on these popular beverages; and the Farm-tech Pavilion, designed to showcase cutting-edge agricultural technologies. These new features were strategically incorporated to bring diversity and dynamism to the event, offering attendees a more comprehensive and enriching exploration of the organic and natural products landscape.
Live demonstrations and product activations took center stage at the Organic Super Kitchen, offering a dynamic schedule featuring cuisines from around the world and engaging activities such as tea ceremonies. Concurrently, a series of knowledge sessions were conducted at the conference, featuring top experts and leaders in the market. Additionally, the Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) Conference, now in its 6th year, featured a lineup of over 20 speakers, making it the sole event for the traditional and alternative medicine sector in the region. The conference’s theme, ‘The role of TCAM on lifestyle diseases,’ aimed to promote traditional wisdom and healing practices for a healthy world.
The three-day Organic and Natural Conference, held alongside the expo, brought together distributors, retailers, HORECA experts, wholesalers, and exporters to discuss the latest trends, updates on product certifications and labeling, export, and retail strategies. Participants gained firsthand insights into the region’s organic and natural market and its future.
As one of our key buyers, Tom Harvey, General Manager of Spinneys & Waitrose in UAE, praised the event, stating, “This has been an extraordinary show! Organic products hold great significance for us, constituting 10% of our sales. The diversity of products showcased, especially those from smaller and distinctive businesses, has been remarkable.