The first day of VIV MEA was described by the event’s organizers as “buzzing,” while exhibitors were positive regarding the number of discussions with poultry and other animal protein producers.

Taking place in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, February 15-17, the Middle East and Africa event has drawn approximately 270 exhibitors spread across three halls.

 “The region wants to develop its own production of animal proteins and especially poultry in a responsible and sustainable way,” says VIV shows manager Ruwan Berculo.

He continued that, clearly, people were happy, as the show offered “real value.”

“We want a premium event here, and this is unique. High quality and international -- that’s unique for the region, he said.

Growing demand for growing region

The Middle East and Africa is a part of the world where the population is not only rising, but a region whose share of the global population is also growing.

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“It currently accounts for 20 percent of the population, but by 2050 this will grow to 30 percent, with more younger people and changing consumption habits,” said Dominic Elfick, Aviagen, international region product manager, speaking at Broiler Meat Trade & Welfare: Focus Middle East/Africa, organized by WATT Global Media.

Thirty-seven percent of the meat consumed in the region is chicken, and this is set to increase not only as a percentage of the total meat consumed, but also in volume and sophistication of presentation as incomes rise, and the population becomes more urbanized.

To meet this expected rise in demand, the region will need to decide whether it will try to produce locally or import.

Growing demand, however, will not be the only challenge facing the region’s industry.

Welfare is also expected to increase pressures on local production.

In some Middle East and African countries, welfare is yet to be a concern, explained Erol Sengor, retired professor from Afyon Kocatepe University, faculty of veterinary medicine, and head of the animal husbandry department. However, in other countries of the region, there is growing consumer interest, often based on misinformation.

In parallel to these consumer demands, there is also the need for any company that wishes to export to the European Union to work to European standards, and this includes welfare standards.