More than 8,500 visitors attended 2018 Yummex Middle East, the leading trade show for sweets and snacks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Staged annually at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) by Koelnmesse Group, the 12th edition of yummex was held Oct. 30-Nov. 1. A total of 283 exhibitors from 43 countries presented their products and services, and more than 50 international companies exhibited for the first time. 
Sixteen country pavilions, including from Brazil, Germany, Iran, the Netherlands, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and the U.S. emphasised the internationality of the event. Top companies such as Jelly Belly Candy Co., Katjes, United Confectioners, Barcel SA de CV/Grupo Bimbo, Prestige 96 AD and BMB Foodstuff were in attendance. 
Together with the special trade fairs SEAFEX, The Speciality Food Festival and Gulfhost, the event served as an ideal meeting point for buyers of the industry. The co-location offered both exhibitors and trade visitors new synergies and business opportunities. 
"At this year's event, exhibitors reported initial contacts in advance of EXPO 2020 Dubai,” said Denis Steker, v.p. International of Koelnmesse GmbH. “In the coming year, we anticipate great interest in yummex ME in this context. It then takes place at the end of October, once again parallel with Gulfood Manufacturing, and thus at the optimal point in time for both the industry and especially for the anticipated EXPO business.”
Innovative trend platform
Many exhibitors used yummex ME 2018 to introduce products aligning with regional trends. Especially in demand were experience-based offerings and health-conscious sweets and snacks. Companies presented a variety of products that are vegan or free from gluten, wheat or added sugar, as well as focusing on offerings without preservatives or artificial colors and flavors.
Italy-based Majani Chocolate presented gluten-free products, along with items free of added sugar and milk. 
“After more than 220 years of activity, it’s time for Majani to look beyond national and European markets,” said Guilia Pagnoni, Majani export sales manager. “yummex Middle East is probably the most important showcase in our sector among the Gulf countries, which, according to last year’s trends, are the most promising ex-EU markets for sweets and confectionery.”
Innovation Awards 2018
Presented for the fifth time, the Innovation Awards recognize future-oriented products in four categories. Thirty exhibitors participated in the competition, and 50 products were nominated. 
For the first time, all nominated products were available for viewing in the Innovation Gallery, not only the prizewinners. 
“The awards are in line with developments in the industry where both overseas suppliers entering the market and local and regional producers are stepping up their game to meet rising demand for confectionery and snacks,” said Mark Napier, DWTC portfolio director. “Vitally, these new-wave products feature more health-related ingredients while still satisfying the region’s renowned sweet tooth preferences.”
2018 Innovation Award winners
Best Bakery Product
Best Bakery yummex ME 2018
Almond Roasted Cookies
Lovely Bake Studio
Best Chocolate Product
Best Chocolate yummex ME 2018
For Fit Chocolate Bar
Divine Chocolates
Best Hard & Soft Candy Product
Best Candy  yummex ME 2018
Chili Candy (Concept development Kidz World S.L.) 
Ismail Industries Limited
Best Snack Product
Best Snack yummex ME 2018
Prestige Wellness Probiotic
Prestige 96 AD
The winners will also be presented at ISM Jan 27-30 in Cologne, Germany. Also in the Innovation Gallery, Innova Market Insights, cooperation partner of yummex ME, provided an overview of the most important regional trends and latest developments for sweets and snacks in the region.
The 2019 yummex ME is scheduled for Oct. 29-31 in Dubai.