Wednesday 08, November 2017 by Jessica Combes

Smart technology investments key to regional F&B industry transformation


Smart technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are fast becoming the key driving force behind the transformation of the regional food and beverage (F&B) industry, according to London Business School’s (LBS) Gulf Association experts.

The global food tech market is expected to grow over $250.43 billion by 2022, meaning that the F&B industry across the Middle East is presented with an array of opportunities to stay ahead of the global curve. 

These views were shared by a gathering of regional industry experts at the ‘LBS Catalyzers Series’ event held in collaboration with its official government partner, Dubai SME, the agency of Dubai Economy mandated to develop the SME sector, at the Shangri-La Hotel in Dubai.

“The scale and pace of smart technology adoption in the F&B industry augur well for regional economic and social development initiatives. The Dubai experience itself underlines the importance of F&B industry in promoting entrepreneurial innovations and customer experience. Smart technologies will bring global competitiveness into the region’s F&B industry and spirit of enterprise,” said Saeed Matar Al Marri, Deputy CEO, Dubai SME.

Anis Harb, General Manager, Deliveroo, supported this view by adding that investing more into F&B technology is the next step. Using more robotics and AI are the technologies that F&B organisations should be thinking about in this space.

According to Technavio, the global artificial intelligence market was valued at more than $179 billion in 2016, and this is expected to grow to around $968 billion by 2021. This delivers major opportunities for the regional food and beverage industries to harness the capabilities of AI to improve their offerings, optimise operations, and deliver a better customer experience.

“We utilise AI to receive and process data so that we can evaluate it resulting in a more tailored F&B experience for our customers. Chatbots are also key because when combined with AI they can deliver customer service at the fraction of the cost of traditional methods. Taking advantage of these technology trends allow F&B businesses to be able to convert customers,” said Karl Naim, Co-Founder & CEO ChefXchange.

The full list of speakers and panellists included: Saeed Matar Al Marri, Deputy CEO, Dubai SME; Hind Al Mulla, Owner of the Home Bakery; Karl Naim, Co-Founder & CEO ChefXchange; Anis Harb General Manager, Deliveroo; Tyrone Reid, CEO, Alabbar Enterprises; Rajiv Meherish, Co-Founder Raju Omlet; Nadine Benchaffai, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Taqado Mexican Kitchen; Debra Greenwood–Director, Festivals Strategy and Planning, Dubai Festival and Retail Establishment; Payal Tejani, Business Development Manager, Sarabeth’s and Arabica, Emirates Hospitality; and Kareem Abu Ghazaleh, CEO of Foodie Brands. The event partners and sponsors included Dubai SME, Entourage, Indian by Nature and MohdPhotoz.

The Catalyzers Series is a collection of forums organised by London Business School’s Gulf Association and partners, which focuses on sectors that are at the heart of the region’s future. Founding members include: Husam Osman Mahjoub, LBS Gulf Association President and Solution Sales Manager – Gemalto, Asra Eftekhari, Managing Director, Eight Luxury Marketing, Suman Menda, Director, Mya Global Management Consulting, Basem Abu Dagga, Executive Director, Learning Curve Holdings LTD and Laila Mohammed Suhail, Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Alliances and Partnerships Sector, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing  and Entities, Government of Dubai.