On the occasion of World Water Day, Alexander van ’t Riet, CEO of Mai Dubai, tells us how the bottled water company overcame the challenges of the pandemic and is bringing value-added products to the market.
What are the innovations the bottled water industry has seen in the past two years?
As is the case with any other industry, innovations are crucial to the bottled water industry to bring value-added products to the market and ensure sustainable growth over time. Within a few years of operations, Mai Dubai has made great strides in this direction through the adoption of advanced technological capabilities, most notably, our fully automated production unit.
We have deployed Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Warehouse Management System (WMS) platforms to ensure smart and smooth intra-logistics. Starting from the arrival of raw material in the warehouses until the very end, our fully automated production unit ensures 100 per cent hands-free operations. Automation now plays a major role in the success of our efforts to provide innovative, safe, and efficient products and services, while remaining socially and environmentally responsible.
What are some of the main challenges you’ve faced in the wake of Covid-19?
Just like businesses in the rest of the world and the region did, Mai Dubai also experienced some operational disruptions initially when the country went into lockdown. We were particularly impacted by the travel restrictions, in addition to our export business and vending machine business coming to a near standstill. However, despite these challenges, our production went up by 30 per cent in the wake of the pandemic.
What inspires Mai Dubai's packaging?
Consumers ‘feel’ a product with their eyes before actually buying it. Therefore, the overall look of a product is important in creating a first impression, which can be later converted into lasting brand loyalty. This is why packaging is important.
If you take one look at our iconic bottle, you will notice the diamond shapes and the striking red colour that adds to its shelf appeal. Moreover, our PET and glass bottles have been designed keeping convenience and use by consumers in mind: the right sizes, the right format for any occasion.
Highlighting the values of sustainability we adhere to, our products are lightweight and recyclable. Since Mai Dubai carries Dubai in its name itself, our packaging captures the essence of Dubai with the emirate’s biggest landmarks highlighted on it.
You've always taken eco-consciousness seriously. What initiatives has Mai Dubai undertaken to live up to the promise of being an eco-friendly bottled water company?
Thanks to the strong performance of Mai Dubai facility’s rooftop solar panel installations that produced more than 30 million kWh of power in 2020, while it consumed only 26 million kWh, it is now a net-zero energy consumer. This feat makes our operations, including entire bottled water production and the adjacent office, fully powered by the sun’s energy. Furthermore, our office is LEED-certified. As part of our activities for the Sustainability Month, we are supporting Dgrade’s Simply Bottles recycling initiative for schools until June 2021. The initiative has been designed to educate, engage and empower children to contribute to sustainability by increasing recovery and recycling rates of plastic bottles in the UAE.
Tell us about some of your new products.
We launched Mai Dubai Zero-Sodium Alkaline Water that combines zero sodium with alkaline - one of our most innovative products - in 2020. It is almost identical in taste to our classic Mai Dubai water, which we know consumers love. Besides, our recently launched Tom & Jerry bottles feature an attractive packaging, adding a twist to the classic Mai Dubai water bottles. This new range appeals to children aged 3 to 12 years, which helps us do our bit in encouraging them to choose water over aerated/sugary drinks.
What are your plans for the next few months?
We are currently celebrating Sustainability Month at Mai Dubai. We look forward to making the most of it by raising awareness on sustainable practices through our various initiatives such as cleanliness and recycling drives among many others.