Everything you could possibly want to know about food in Africa will be showcased at the upcoming Food Africa 2018, in Cairo, Egypt on December 8-10. Whether you are a foodie, or in the food business, Food Africa is an excellent opportunity to network, learn more about food and agro-industries and try locally-sourced and prepared foods by top Chefs at the live cooking show. This exploration and celebration of African cuisine and what makes it unique will see it pushed to the forefront of people’s minds and into the Western mainstream…
Come December, Africa in all its culinary glory, will be on display at Food Africa.
After three successful editions, Food Africa, the continent’s largest International Trade Exhibition specialised in the food and agro-industries, will return from December 8 to 10, 2018.
Fittingly, it is to be staged in the bustling heart of the Egyptian capital Cairo.
With a steadily increasing youthful population of approximately 96 million people, Egypt remains the largest consumer market in North Africa.
Egypt is also the gateway to the African market; in fact, agriculture and agro-processing across Africa is set to witness an increase of $204 billion by 2025.
Food Africa will pinpoint key opportunities in the agro-food sector, and provide regional and international stakeholders with direct access to the Egyptian mega-market and Africa’s flourishing agriculture industry.
Combining an innovative format of showcasing, networking, and matchmaking, the show attracts wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and other industry professionals, and offers specialised platforms and business solutions including a Hosted Buyers Programme.
This specialised Business-to-Business platform is developed with a primary focus on building bridges between buyers, vendors, and traders from across the region and beyond to facilitate business undertakings.
It also allows guest buyers to explore a diverse range of products and negotiate contracts on the spot.
However, one of the main attractions of Food Africa is the action-packed Live Cooking Show.
Powered by the Egyptian Chefs Association (ECA), this dynamic show sets the stage for internationally-famed Chefs to employ their culinary skills and prepare unique recipes in front of a live audience, each day of the exhibition.
The show is streamed live on large screens for all visitors to enjoy, and the resulting recipes are collected in a special cookbook to be distributed to them.
Executive Director for ECA Mirjam van Ijssel says the three-day live cooking show features eight talented Egyptian Chefs, who will share their experience and expertise with Food Africa visitors.
“We have two celebrity Chefs appearing at the show this year, along with young budding Chefs, who are keen to show off their talents,” Mirjam says.
While the Chefs due to feature at Food Africa are currently being confirmed, what is certain is the dishes they will prepare and present at the live show will contain flavours and ingredients typical of Egypt.
“Often very traditional dishes are presented but they have a contemporary twist,” Mirjam adds.
“Dishes presented will also showcase foods on show throughout the Food Africa exhibition – such as dates, honey, Tilapia, pulses, raisins, Egyptian cheeses and herbs and spices – there are savoury and sweet dishes, it is a taste sensation.”
Pita bread, known locally as eish baladi is a staple of Egyptian cuisine, and cheesemaking in Egypt dates back to the First Dynasty of Egypt, with domiati being the most popular type of cheese consumed today.
Common meats in Egyptian cuisine are rabbit, pigeon, chicken, and duck.
Lamb and beef are frequently used for grilling, offal is a popular fast food in cities and foie gras is a delicacy that has been prepared in the region since at least 2500 BCE.
Fish and seafood are common in Egypt’s coastal regions but a significant amount of Egyptian cuisine is vegetarian, due to both the historically high price of meat and the needs of the Coptic Christian community, whose religious restrictions require essentially vegan diets for much of the year.
Egypt’s Red Sea ports were the main points of entry for spices to Europe and easy access to various spices has, throughout the years, left its mark on Egyptian cuisine.
Mirjam says interest levels in sourcing and eating local and traditional foods has increased dramatically throughout Egypt, mainly due to a deep resurgence of national pride following the January 25 Revolution in 2011.
The 2011 Egyptian Revolution took place across all of Egypt, and was organised by various youth groups as a statement against increasing police brutality during the last few years of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s term in office.
Egyptian protesters’ grievances focused on legal and political issues and violent clashes between security forces and protesters resulted in approximately 850 people killed and over 6,000 injured.
Eventually Mubarak’s Government was dissolved, and overtime, Egyptians have found a renewed sense of national pride in their country, its culture and traditions.
Like most countries, a huge part of its cultural heritage is food: how and where it is grown; how it is prepared and presented; and of course, where it is eaten, and with whom.
“The country has witnessed a nationalistic drive resulting in many proud Egyptians wanting to showcase their unique cuisine,” Mirjam says.
“Zooba is especially popular and is a true success story – it has branches opening outside Egypt in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, New York and London in the near future.”
A celebration of Egyptian street food culture, Zooba believes Egyptian street food rivals the best in the world.
Its high quality selection of breads, ful, taamia, koshari and meats are all sourced from local markets and free of preservatives and additives.
Mirjam explains Egyptians seemed to lack behind their close neighbours, the Lebanese, who have proven to be very successful in promoting their cuisine abroad by opening eateries.
“This is what we now see the Syrians doing well currently,” she adds.
However, this is changing as Egyptians become more committed to stamp Egypt’s mark on the culinary world map.
Within the country itself, more and more resort hotels in destinations such as
Hurghada , Sharm El Sheikh and Marsa Alam are opening an Egyptian restaurant.
“This allows tourists to sample locally-sourced fare, prepared traditionally and enjoy a taste of Egypt during their holidays.”
The other movement occurring in Egypt currently – just as in many other countries – is the demand for organic and whole foods, sourced locally.
“There is awareness about the importance of healthy and wholesome local foods, and demand is growing.
“More people are seeking local organic products and also traditional food products from Egypt’s different regions,”Mirjam adds.
Following the success of the 2017 Food Africa, where 294 exhibitors were present across 10,000 Square metres of exhibition space frequented by nealy 11,000 visitors, organisers anticipate another great spectacle during December 8-10 at Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Last year’s edition of Food Africa saw the introduction of Egypt Food Avenue – a platform for Egyptian SMEs and new exporters to expand their businesses, as well as Sea Food Africa – a specialised section dedicated entirely to fish and seafood.
Given African dishes are still woefully under-represented on the world culinary scene, Food Africa is an opportunity to learn more about the ingredients that make up this unique cuisine, and how you can utilise them.
The live cooking show will give attendees the chance to see how traditional food is best prepared, while being able to taste samples of the creations from some of Egypt’s top established and budding Chefs.
From the humble maize/grain porridges and root vegetables forming the basis of so many diets, to grand feasting dishes such as breyanis, tagines, stews and aromatic curries, Africa’s favourite foods offer something for every palate.
For businesses, Food Africa also offers opportunities to directly engage with future customers in their own environment; enables you to launch to new markets and establish new business connections; meet new prospective buyers and suppliers and present your new products to existing clients; and position your business amidst the greatest concentration of buyers in one place.
At Food Africa, attendees can sign contracts and agreements with buyer groups on location; find reliable agents and distributors; exchange experiences and insights with local professionals; gain increased visibility in East Africa especially the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) region; and discover new market trends and technologies in the African food industry.
Food Africa is a delight for the senses and whatever your reason is for visiting the show, you will enjoy Egypt and Africa’s amazing cuisine being showcased at the exhibition.
For more information about the trade show, visit Food Africa.