The Business Year

Dr. Saif Rashid Saif Al Shaqsi

Director General, Directorate of Million Date Palm Plantation Project

Matheus Leao

Commercial Country Manager, BRF Middle East-OneFoods

Dates and poultry are two key products for Oman to diversify its domestic food offerings and ramp up Omani food production to ensure security.

How do you help further food security in the Sultanate?

DR. SAIF RASHID SAIF AL SHAQSI The Million Date Palm Plantation Project came about as a direct instruction from His Majesty to plant 1 million date palms in Oman. This required a location with enough land and water, along with suitable soil and the right climate for dates. The project has many goals, such as promoting desert greening and attracting the younger generation to work on the project. The project requires a substantial workforce, starting from taking care of the plantations through to harvesting, post-harvesting activities, and the industrial processing stages later on. Another goal is to create a successful model for date palm plantations to encourage existing farmers to adjust their farms to this methodology. Our production target is 96,000 tons per annum for the entire project, meaning potential sales of OMR96 million (USD246 million) for one year’s production. The second pillar is the industrial part of the plan. This involves processing everything, including ruined dates that we will use to produce ethanol. We will use the byproducts, such as the leaves and trunks, to produce MDF charcoal and other products. We are collaborating with the Oman National Investments Development Company. We are also collaborating with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to come up with innovative products relating to date palms. The third pillar of the project is R&D, which will establish laboratories to conduct research and collect data and samples.

MATHEUS LEAO Local players have an important role in reducing Oman’s reliance on poultry imports, as approximately 75% of the poultry is imported. Oman is one of the countries with the lowest per capita consumption of chicken in the GCC; this is more of an opportunity than a challenge, and we see the competition helping us to increase availability and consumption. The major factor that differentiates us is innovation. In the 1980s we were the first company to introduce frozen chicken to the region. In 2017, we launched a new innovative product, which consisted of a whole chicken pre-cut into eight pieces in a convenient packaging with a zip-lock seal. This innovation was driven by the consumer insight that most consumers in the region consume chicken in parts at home, but they spend time and effort cleaning the whole chicken and taking it apart. Our Sadia brand offers a more convenient solution. Today we have a global platform of production with factories based in Brazil, Turkey, Malaysia, and Abu Dhabi that can provide the market with high-speed innovations, as well as best international standards and processes.

How do you distribute your products?

SRSAS When we talk about post-harvesting, it is a process from collection through to storage. Once we store our products, they are intended to go to industry. Our role is to assist SMEs and not duplicate what they are doing, which is mainly mixing and packaging dates. Our role is to support SMEs, which are currently unable to get a timely supply of raw dates. However, these SMEs will not consume more than five to 10 tons of dates, and we will process the remaining 80 tons to create new industries and products. These new products will first target the local market first and will then be exported.

ML We have improved our distribution channels by focusing on three initiatives. The first is our go-to-market strategy; we focused on activities that can bring some excitement to the frozen area and our distribution network. The second is our relationship with retailers. In partnership with retailers, we seek to create more interest in the frozen foods area; this year in partnership with Lulu Hypermarket, we set freezers in different areas of the hypermarket and provided cooler bags to consumers. Finally, the third and main initiative is to improve the reach, quality, and efficiency of our distribution network. We have revisited our distribution network and created a quality assurance department with a key focus on preventing quality issues. We also started to receive products through the Port of Salalah, which helped us improve the service level to the Dhofar region. We have also completely redesigned the way that we manage transportation; we changed our entire fleet, customized reefer boxes to the highest quality standards in the industry, and implemented GPS in all of our trucks. We are also in the process of implementing one of the most advanced transportation management platforms that will intelligently assist us before loading trucks. This platform is already present in other countries in the GCC, and we are currently rolling it out in Oman.



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