A renewed focus on consumers’ health is expected to improve market share for the UAE’s Al Rawabi Dairy both at home and abroad. Fortified milk, strengthened animal welfare, sustainable farming and feeding cost efficiencies are among the innovative solutions the company has deployed across its production cycle, says its CEO.
“As the UAE relies heavily on food and drink imports to meet domestic demand and as the locally based largest dairy company, we are planning to increase our production capacity in the market and our market share to fulfil this rising demand, as well as ensure there is more food safety for the beloved country we live in,” Dr Ahmed Eltigani A. Rahim Elmansouri, Chief Executive Officer, Founder and Leader of Al Rawabi Dairy Company, tells GN Focus via email.
The award-winning company hopes to enlarge production lines in the UAE while exporting its products across MENA. “Al Rawabi is on the way to become a regional brand and by 2020 we will be present in all GCC countries,” Dr Elmansouri says. “We will also increase our visibility in more African countries. The aim is to double the turnover by 2020 and expand our customer base further.”
To that end, Al Rawabi is currently assessing the feasibility of three new facilities: a new dairy farm in Abu Dhabi, an operations base in Saudi Arabia, and an alfalfa hay farm in Sudan to close the production cycle and control feeding costs. The Al Khawaneej-based company already distributes to Oman and exports to Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Yemen.
“Over the years, we have kept up our investment in our facilities’ infrastructure and cattle stock in line with market demand,” he adds. As consumers increasingly seek healthier options in the supermarket, Al Rawabi has responded with new products. “Before, consumers used to look only for production and expiry dates,” Dr Elmansouri says.
“Now they look into ingredients, they ask if the product is good for their health. That’s why we introduced functional products, such as Vitamin D milk, the first milk enriched with vitamin D3 to help solve the burning issue of vitamin D deficiency in the region, Nutreeboost, the first vitamin- and mineral-enriched, flavoured laban, and Supermilk, the first milk enriched with vitamins and minerals.”
Dr Elmansouri acknowledges that there are several challenges ahead, however. “With the introduction of VAT in the UAE, the evident impact is in some of the items being left out of the consumer basket. In terms of operating costs, rates for ingredients, insurance and freight are all going up, and yet the company
has not been able to offset these costs by raising product prices,” he says.
“The main challenge is from a bulk of the competitors from other countries, yet their cost structure is much lower than ours because they have direct or indirect subsidies. In return, this challenges us to innovate constantly and look for smarter ways to perform on the market.”