Tarek Ogden-Smith
Co-founder, Foodsters Inc.

Tell us about your business?
We have 4 lines of business:
We do Corporate Catering, high end Catering and 3rd party production
We are Food truck operators,
We provide F&B Consulting,
We custom build and fabricate mobile kitchens (food trucks, trailers, carts, etc.)

What are top 3 trends in the F&B industry? 
1. Emergence of home-grown concepts: today there is much more confidence and appreciation in the market for local talent and concepts.
2. Consciousness in the ethical practices from start to end of the value chain. Customers want to know where we source our ingredients, how they are handled, the process we use, the eco-friendly packaging that we provide. Customers want to learn and want to make sure we are conscious about taking care of our environment.
3. Casual dining and comfort food seem to be the most popular in terms of places to eat. People have dropped barriers today and are willing to experiment beyond their local cuisines and learn more about different cultures and traditions.    

What are the top challenges you face in your business? 

1. The Banking sector’s confidence and support for the SME segment
2. High cost of food due to the majority of products being imported

How has SIAL been for you to purchase inventory and source new products? 
We always look forward to working with new suppliers and sourcing new products at SIAL Middle East.

What are you looking forward to the most at SIAL Middle East this year? 
Innovation and connecting with suppliers & industry leaders and exchanging industry know how. Looking to learn from like-minded people.

How do you see UAE market’s demand and interest in organic products? 
Demand and interest are very encouraging as long as the price is competitive. People like the idea but not yet convinced of pricing.

How do you see millennials affecting the way you do business today? 

Definitely a growing sector that will influence future trends as long as proper training and guidance is provided. Millennials in other parts of the world are more financially independent than in this part of the world so purchasing power is stronger for them internationally than it is for them here.

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