Patricia Dillon, Managing Director, reflects on the Scottish Product Showcase organised by Scottish Development International (SDI) during Gulfood 2018, the biggest interactional exhibition in the Middle East.
Taking our award-winning artisan distilling company out to the Scottish Product Showcase organised by SDI during Gulfood exhibition was an exciting opportunity, enabling us to continue our journey into export markets. The trip - a first for us - paid off with some excellent new contacts in some of our key target countries, UAE and India, where our main business objectives were to grow turnover and expand our portfolio of brands.
We'd identified Gulfood as an important platform for meeting buyers, chefs, senior personnel from on and off trade and in-market SDI specialists. It was also a great place to extend our knowledge and understanding of the market. Thanks to HIE's support, we were introduced to market specialists in the SDI team both in the UK and in-market, and were able to set up meetings with key targets. HIE also set up the Scottish Showcase, creating a high-profile platform for our products.
I enjoyed the inspirational keynote speech by Nicholas Maclean, Scottish Trade Envoy to UAE, who impressed upon everyone the importance of Scottish brands in this market. It was great to be part of a high-quality event in the fabulous surroundings of the Jumeirah Emirate Towers hotel, with 23 food and drink companies participating to an invited guest list of over 150 people, and over half a dozen top chefs preparing food using the best of Scottish produce. Our award winning Spey single malt whisky was used to create a fabulous dessert, which was a real honour!
Preparing to attend went fairly smoothly, as apart from the usual paperwork, we simply had to provide a company overview and an indicator of current market presence. We organised the shipping of goods out for the display - many of these were showcased on the bar at the event - and we made preliminary contact with the people we hoped to meet during the exhibition.
SDI programme during Gulfood gave us an excellent, professional business trip to Dubai, where we had the opportunity to meet influential people, buyers, fellow brand owners and senior members of key distributors for both on and off trade in the UAE, as well as securing new introductions to Indian buyers. We're already planning our strategy for returning next year.