The World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) Conference 2022, which will be held in the Middle East for the first time in October, offers an important opportunity to reshape global food systems, according to organisers and attendees.
The conference will take place at a time when the UN General Assembly has warned of rising hunger and malnutrition in the world, with factors including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and international conflicts resulting in nearly a billion people going hungry in 2021.
As the world’s largest network of wholesale markets, WUWM represents the industry’s most significant suppliers of fresh food. Attendees at the conference are set to include leading fresh food producers, wholesale markets, retailers, fresh food logistics companies, air and maritime freight providers as well as local, national and regional government representatives and policymakers and food systems experts.
With the theme, “Global food security in the XXIs: Risks, challenges and solutions to ensure resilient and sustainable fresh food supply chains”, WUWM Abu Dhabi 2022 will bring together key stakeholders to discuss the mechanisms required to secure global food supplies. It will review pathways to ensure the transition of food systems into sustainability, opportunities to reduce food loss, increase resilience of the fresh food supply chain and promote innovation and digital tools to ensure long term food security.
Stephane Layani, WUWM Chairman, said: “WUWM is committed to tackling food insecurity and preventing food crises around the world. This conference will offer a vital opportunity to identify risks and anticipate future challenges for maintaining food supplies. Sharing innovations, best practices and new approaches will enable us to mitigate the impact of the current crisis and avoid future disruption to food supply chains.”
“We are very proud to bring the event to Abu Dhabi, our first ever in the Middle East, in recognition of the remarkable steps that leaders and organisations in this region are taking to ensure food security. We have issued an open invitation to all industry actors around the world to participate, so that we can agree a multi-stakeholder approach to fixing and enhancing global food systems.”
The event is being hosted by AD Ports Group, the leading facilitator of global trade, logistics, and industry, which is playing a central role in building infrastructure and encouraging new market entrants in support of food security.
In February 2022, AD Ports Group announced the launch of the ‘Regional Food Hub – Abu Dhabi’ in partnership with Ghassan Aboud Group and in collaboration with Rungis. The hub will cover a total land area of 3.3 million sqm and feature market areas, complementary activity zones, industrial cold storage, logistics, waste management and water treatment amenities.
Abdullah Al Hameli, CEO, Economic Cities & Free Zones, AD Ports Group, said: “Hosting the WUWM Conference will provide the UAE with an important opportunity to demonstrate the key steps we are taking in support of national, regional, and ultimately global food security. At the same time, it will provide us with a platform to exchange knowledge and learn from some of the largest and the most innovative fresh food suppliers in the world.”
As part of the national Food Security Strategy, the UAE aims to become the most secure nation in the Global Food Security Index by 2051, using modern technologies and enhanced local production to ensure the sustainable production of fresh food.
According to experts attending the conference, the resource intensity of food production is a key challenge for global food supply chains, with food production requiring high levels of water and energy. Shifting to alternative energy sources and reducing water wastage are key opportunities for the industry, although this significant transformation will require careful management to avoid increased costs leading to increased food prices.
Other topics under the microscope of WUWM Abu Dhabi 2022 include food security, supply chains, digitalisation, and the role of food hubs.
WUWM Abu Dhabi 2022 will take place on 19-20 October 2022 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Early bird rates are available for delegates who book tickets before 16 September.