Digital Technology will Transform Food Production in Middle East and Beyond, say Experts

World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) Conference in Abu Dhabi to Highlight Power of Technology in Solving World’s Food Security Crisis

Abu Dhabi, UAE – 17 October 2022: An increased use of innovative digital technologies could help to solve the world’s ongoing food security crisis, according to policymakers and business leaders set to meet in Abu Dhabi later this month. 

From big data usage to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on food systems and improve logistics to geospatial systems that predict locust feeding patterns, the World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) Conference in Abu Dhabi will examine a range of new innovations that could bring game-changing tools to global food markets. 

The fresh food sector is among the less penetrated sectors in terms of digitalisation and application of digital technology. Nevertheless, many studies have shown that technology can help transform the global food production system and mitigate its impact on the climate and environment.

A special innovation panel will address how technology can help address challenges in the sector. By bringing together experts from a range of key organisations, including start-ups deploying artificial intelligence to manage food supply chains, such as SILAL, a leading UAE agritech company; EAT, a science-based global platform for food system transformation; and moderated by economic consultant Roland Berger Middle East, the panel will examine the potential of emerging technologies seen for developing more efficient and reliable food supply systems.

Feroz Sanaulla, Partner, Roland Berger Middle East, said: “In the past half century, the population has doubled, and food production has tripled. This has been possible due to an ecosystem that is productivity-oriented, leading in some cases to ultra-processed food, and negative health impacts such as obesity and cancer. Demand will continue to grow but now end-consumers are demanding a shift towards healthy, quality food, produced in an environmentally conscious way.”

The EAT Foundation is one of the global agencies working to achieve the ambitious development targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which stipulates an urgent need to transform food systems. 

Javad Mushtaq, Deputy CEO, EAT Foundation, said: “We truly believe that food is the most powerful opportunity to improve the health of both people and planet, and to transform our food systems, to help accelerate the pace to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. To do so, we need access to ground-breaking knowledge and science, such as the EAT-Lancet report, to ensure that food systems are part of the global climate action agenda, to unlock the potential of disruptive innovation and catalyse transformative shifts in the flow of capital into our food systems, and to work on ground-breaking coalitions to drive change.”

These innovation leaders will be joined by key UAE organisations, including The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, as well as AD Ports Group, which is developing one of the region’s largest food trading and logistics centres at KEZAD. 

Abdullah Al Hameli, CEO, Economic Cities & Free Zones, AD Ports Group, said: “Digitalisation is the single greatest factor able to positively impact today’s food security crisis, as it drives innovation from production to consumption along the food supply chain.  We look forward to the upcoming WUWM conference to learn from the industry’s technology leaders and to share our own best-practices in the food transport, storage, and logistics cluster, as a leading global trade facilitator in our own right.”

Under 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 be one most significant meetings of the global food industry held this year, building on the work of their 2021 conference which examined the food supply challenges in the post COVID-19 world. 

Stephane Layani, WUWM Chairman, said: “The fresh food industry is probably the sector that is the least penetrated by digital tools. Several cases and studies have nevertheless shown the game-changing impact that digitalisation can have in our industry.  This conference will convene our industry’s public and private sector actors at the highest levels to discuss and debate, among other issues, how we can better wield digitalisation tools in different processes of the fresh food supply – creating more robust, more secure communities in which balanced, healthy, and nutritious diets are the norm rather than the exception.”

Other topics set to be discussed at WUWM Abu Dhabi 2022 include logistics and the role of food hubs in ensuring healthy diets. 

The conference will take place on 20 October 2022 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

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