Jeanette Kristensen Alhaider

How is Emirates National Food helping set the bar for processed meat production in the UAE?

Emirates National Food (ENF), being a 28-year-old local company, with a portfolio that offers fresh chicken and processed products, has always been dedicated and focused on bringing quality products to its consumers. At the heart of Al Rawdah’s values is its focus on hygiene and food safety. Since the opening of the farm, the management has made sure that this focus penetrates through the whole organisation.

Al Rawdah is dedicated to bring only the best quality to consumers every day. At its food processing plant, ENF strictly maintains using best-quality raw materials. Most of its products are produced with fresh chicken that provides a fresher product, instead of using imported defrosted raw material.

Moreover, we thrive to and achieved producing products which are not commonly produced in the country. Our latest achievement includes organic processed products made from fresh local organic chicken. We are proud to mention that ENF is the first company in UAE, certified to produce Organic processed products.

With the positive response, we understand that there is an appetite for such value-added products and hence, we not only would like to continue down that line, but also continue innovating products that have an added benefit to the consumers. This is one of our main goals.

What are the main challenges being faced by the meat processing industry in the UAE and how is ENF surmounting the same?

There are several challenges, especially related to the economic situation all over the world today. The supply chain has been affected tremendously and challenges related to freight is still at its peak and hence we are occasionally facing delays, which can hamper our production and our go-to-market strategy.

Another challenge is the import of products from other countries where the cost of production is much less, and which are able to sell their products at a cheaper price than the manufactures in the UAE. These countries benefit the advantages of getting subsidies, agricultural support etc. and are able to out compete local manufacturers. This has become a tough challenge for manufacturers in the UAE, as the production cost is relatively high here.

What is your growth strategy for ENF over the next five years?

For ENF, we will keep focusing on growing our poultry business, as this is our core business. We are developing further on our organic fresh chicken business as well as looking into new value-added products within the fresh category. Our future goals will also include developing a slow growing chicken range while continue being the UAE’s largest poultry farm.

At our food processing plant, we are trying to develop unique fresh products that are not commonly produced in the UAE. We intend to bring and produce such products locally so that consumers in the UAE can enjoy a fresher product experience. We therefore have lots of products lined up to bring a better consumer experience.

We want to push the trend towards supporting local production, understanding that buying close-to-home products is much better not only for the environment and the economy, but also because it is healthier for you. In the UAE, we follow strict quality reassurance, and have tight control over guidelines, thereby delivering local products that are of a high quality and standard.

As a visionary business leader in your sector, please share a couple of tips for entrepreneurs looking to enter the industry in the near future.

My advice to entrepreneurs looking to enter the industry in the near future is that if you believe in something which you think has a place in the market and if you have a consumer for your product, never stop. It might take time as everything takes time at the beginning.

Changing consumer behaviour and getting them to try new products is always a challenge but it is possible. So my advice is to continue pushing your product if you have the right quality and price.

While we launched the organic fresh chicken in the UAE, many people were not sure this was a good strategy, but now our organic products are everywhere. People are starting to realise that local organic fresh chicken is a superior, premium product, compared to imported organic chicken, as our local chickens are truly fresh.

Imported products are not as fresh as products that are delivered from the slaughterhouse to the market on the same day. Luckily, consumers are starting to understand this and opting for local products. However, this is a process and anyone going into the business has to understand that it takes time and persistence.

There are a lot of products out there already available in the UAE, especially with Dubai being a central hub, where we have products from all around the world including all the major brands. It is a fact though, that we have very little products produced in the UAE, and this is what we really want to change.

We want to see local producers prosper and we want to see good quality products made within the UAE and this is what we stand for and the route we want to go.

We support the smaller local producers by purchasing from them and selling it in the UAE market. So, I feel that as an upcoming entrepreneur within the food business – persistence, patience and hard work are the two key elements to success.