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Al Ain Dairy, the largest dairy producer in the UAE and the prominent brand in the market, is expanding its growth across the region as the Gulf’s dairy sector continues to thrive. The company has witnessed significant growth in the hypermarket sector during the last 10 years with a current local market share of 38 per cent, but the renowned producer of milk, yoghurt and laban drinks is beginning to cast its eye overseas at the larger export market, with new products on the horizon.
Shashi Menon, chief operating officer at Al Ain, explained the company’s plans for export domination: “The company has entered a phase of development that will lead to a ‘state of readiness’ – very soon we will be fully synchronized with our expansion and will be in a position to increase output in order to meet export demand. Now is the right time for Al Ain Dairy to enter the export market.”
The step from regional to international supply rarely comes without expansion and Menon confirmed the company would be growing its farm and factory in order to meet the demands of their new, foreign buyers.
“Our growth has led us to the point where we need to take the company to the next level in terms of output. With the increased volumes predicted in line with company projections it’s necessary to expand the current facilities,” Menon explained.
“These are not just improvements or an extension of our factory but total infrastructure changes that will in effect triple our output when complete.”
Menon explained the planned expansion will see production operations split into three key areas: juice, dairy and camel milk products.
“There is significant investment planned that is happening right now which will help realise this massive change in infrastructure at the farm in Al Ain,” Menon said. “Our plant and factory will nearly triple in size and technology upgrades and new state-of-the-art processing and packaging machinery will increase efficiency and output.”
The planned expansion was always a natural progression for the company, says Menon, which had previously held back from rushing into the export business. “This level of expansion is a natural progression for Al Ain Dairy. We had long resisted the temptation to rush into export, preferring to reach a state of readiness before progressing plans. It has been a long process though as the company first wanted to meet its growing demand for local supply and has slowly increased its market share.
“It was vitally important to perfect our cold chain management before leapfrogging into export with our matrixes untested. Now we are ready and poised for the further growth export will give us.”
Al Ain Dairy’s production will be boosted by an additional farm, also in Al Ain, which will accommodate a further 6,000 to 8,000 additional livestock. The new farm will also be vertically integrated and have its own processing plant for increasing long life portfolio. Menon says the move will minimise risk by spreading production operations across two locations and offering the company greater flexibility.
Alongside its international offering, Al Ain Dairy is also eyeing the fast-expanding camel milk market and Menon says the race is on in the region for product innovation for the produce.
“Camel milk is a market that is in significant undersupply globally compared with its growing demand. There is voracious demand both regionally and internationally for a complete range of camel milk related products.
“Product innovation is at the heart of everything Al Ain Dairy does, and the company is further poised to make some exciting news about the developing camel milk market.”