Dubai dates factory
Dubai Industrial City has emerged as a choice destination for F&B businesses, especially those with extensive production. Al Barakah Dates operates a large-scale plant there. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Al Barakah Dates, which operates one of the biggest processing plants for dates in the world, has entered a joint venture with India’s Candor Foods in a deal that is seen as a natural outcome from last year’s CEPA deal between UAE and India.

The JV will supply up to 30,000 tonnes a year of processed dates for India, one of the biggest consumers of the delicacy. This will be done through the Al Barakah facility in Dubai Industrial City, itself emerging as one of the popular locations for F&B businesses with major production interests. The products from Dubai will be turned into retail-ready products Candor Foods’ hub in Mumbai.

“The Al Barakah JV is what can be attained through the UAE’s CEPA deals with India, Indonesia and Israel, where local production can supply key markets with ‘Make it in the UAE’ initiatives,” said Saud Abu Alshawareb, Executive Vice-President of Industrial Leasing at Tecom Group, which owns Dubai Industrial City.

“That apart, the June 21 UAE regulation that allowed foreign businesses 100 per cent ownership of industrial sector activity on the mainland has been another breakthrough. The UAE can offer manufacturers locations that they operate at lower costs and reach multiple export markets, in this region and outside.”

The Dubai Industrial City – which operates as a mainland entity and not a free zone – had a dedicated food cluster for nearly two decades now. But in the post-Covid environment, more F&B manufacturers have seen it as offering a location nearer to end-user markets and away from the supply disruptions.

“Companies are willing to seek options not to get hit with supply chain issues the way they did during and after Covid,” said Alshawareb. “International companies are open to having more than one location to manage their production and distribution.”

Offer incentives

Allowing for full foreign ownership of businesses across sectors was one of the three or four significant reforms the UAE brought about in the corporate space. Dubai Industrial City’s F&B hub extends to 23.5 million square feet, with more than 100 entities having a representation, including the likes of Patchi and Al Barakah.

We do offer incentives for international investments, based on sector, the type of manufacture, the level of innovation and sustainability they bring in, etc.

- Saud Abu Alshawareb, Executive Vice-President of Industrial Leasing at Tecom Group

Based on sector, type of manufacture, investing innovation and sustain.

“Since October 2021, we also have an understanding with Emirates Development Bank to offer funding – at favourable rates – for construction, upgrades to process lines, investments in renewable energy. I repeat, these come with extremely favourable rates."

The JV partners for dates
Candor Foods operates in the nuts, dry fruits, dates and health foods space in India. The company operates out of facilities in Mumbai and services all major supermarket chains in India and co-manufactures for Health Foods Brands.

Al Barakah Dates launched in 1988 as a foodstuff import and export entity, and has grown to be a market leader for packaged and processed dates. It is increasing production capacity at its 600,000 square feet factory in Dubai Industrial City to produce date-based ingredients and products such as liquid sugars, fillings and binders, and ready-to-eat snacks and nutrition.