Despite smaller size, Seafex 2019 connects seafood sector to Middle East market

Published on
November 1, 2019

The three-day Seafex 2019 show opened its gates in Dubai on 29 October, attracting more than 40 exhibitors from the United States, Asia, Europe, and Africa.

This year’s Seafex, its eighth edition, was co-located with the Gulfood Manufacturing, yummex Middle East, and the Private Label & Licensing shows. The event is one of the key seafood shows in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa markets, bringing together professionals, producers, processors, and suppliers across these regions’ seafood value chain. Seafex 2019 attracted exhibitors and visitors from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, the U.S., and the United Arab Emirates.

Exhibitors featured various forms of aquaculture products, value-added products such as canned, marinated, and smoked products, and a diverse range of fishing tools, equipment, and services. The show also included demonstrations and presentations, including talks on consumer trends in a number of regional markets.

While exhibitors and visitors in attendance interviewed by SeafoodSource were optimistic about the show’s potential, some noted the event was smaller than previous editions and attendance fell below their expectations.

“We came back to Seafex for the first time in 10 years and we looked forward to getting an understanding of the latest seafood Middle East market trends as we seek to expand our market reach and also learn about new investment opportunities in the region,” said Ashton Meier of Pacific Seafood Group’s international sales department.

Meier, however, said the turnout and size of the show was “much smaller than the company initially anticipated.”

Pacific Seafood is one of the largest vertically-integrated seafood processing and distribution companies in the United States. Meier said the company made its foray into West Africa where “the business opportunities are immense if one gets some of the things right.”

For exhibitors and visitors attending the show for the first time, the event was more of an opportunity to create new networks and add to their list of business contacts, strengthen their existing networks, and get a deeper understanding of the Middle East’s fisheries and aquaculture market, and learn about trends in the United Arab Emirates, the host of the event.

“Our company has participated in seafood events across Asia but this is the first time we are taking part in the Dubai Seafex Show,” Ray Chen, of Taiwan’s Fish Treasure Frozen Food Co, Ltd, a family-owned business, told SeafoodSource. “One may not really say whether our participation can result in additional business deals but at least we had an opportunity to get new contacts and it is only later after this event that we can know whether the business cards we collected and those we have given out could yield into a new seafood business deal.”

Fish Treasure Frozen Food Co., Ltd, which was founded by Chen’s father in 1998, has its main offices at Taiwan’s biggest fishing port of Suao Port and is engaged in the daily transportation of fresh fish to its freezing facilities near the port, with Chen saying the company’s aim is “to compete, though with volumes on the quality front with products from Japan, South Korea, and China.”

For Raherimanana Bakoly, a beneficiary of the second phase of the ongoing World Bank-supported Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Project (SWIOFish), the show presented an opportunity to spread the word about the quality of seafood from Madagascar.

“Our participation at this year’s Seafex in Dubai is to get the message out to the world that Madagascar has a huge marine and coastal resource with immense potential for a thriving seafood industry, if only we can get access to fishing equipment and training,” Bakoly said.

Bakoly, who also owns Malagasy’s Manda SA Restaurant, said international events such as Seafex “is one way of getting to tell the rest of the seafood business community across the world what our country has and why it is important for potential investors and financiers to partner with the Malagasy fishing community.”

The show was to be preceded by the Seafood Expo 2019 in Dubai, but that event was postponed and has been rescheduled for 29 and 30 September, 2020.

Photo courtesy of Shem Oirere/SeafoodSource

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