“Quality is our number one focus”

Arabian Farms strives to be the Rolls Royce of the UAE poultry industry

Arabian Farms ACM NT Compact

The United Arab Emirates has a population of 9.4 million made up of almost 200 nationalities. Expats are the main consumers of chicken products and are willing to spend extra on quality food. Arabian Farms has seized the opportunity by focusing on the top end of the market. “Quality is our number one focus,” says Dr. Suheel Ahmed, CEO of Arabian Farms Investment LLC.

Dr. Suheel explains the company’s choice for Marel, “Arabian Farms wants to be the Rolls Royce of poultry operators with quality as our number one focus. To make ourselves different, we chose only top suppliers for our hatcheries, broiler sheds and processing plant. Marel was shortlisted because of its strong name and its leading position in the market. Our aim was to offer local innovative chicken products that suit our market. We needed the most efficient machines producing top quality products. That’s why we chose Marel equipment.”

Implementation turned out very well. “From both sides, this was a very professionally managed project, well-planned and with no misunderstandings or delays. From the top to the operational level, all people did a terrific job. Everybody worked very hard to meet requirements, completing the project in a remarkably short time even with the pandemic in its last phase.”

Market expectations

In UAE, consumers are willing to pay more for quality food. Arabian Farms focuses on this high-end market with its strategy of changing people’s minds from frozen to fresh. The company is convinced that fresh locally produced chicken will eventually replace most frozen products. Dr. Suheel explains, “The cut-up market has already grown substantially to 50-60% in some outlets and this will continue. Consumers are looking for more convenience. Few consumers now want to cook a whole chicken or cut up a chicken themselves at home. With the increasing amount of cut-ups, we foresee chickens, currently around 1,350 grams [2.9 lbs], getting bigger. This is financially attractive, because bigger cut-up parts simply make more money.”

World Expo

“Our distribution network is huge, catering to all channels. Today, 70-80% of our table eggs are distributed through major retail outlets. We plan to do the same with our chicken business. We intend to be strong in other channels too such as HoReCa and small grocers,” says Dr. Suheel.
“We expect a lot from the postponed Expo 2020. It’s the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East and runs from October 2021 to March 2022 with 25 to 30 million visitors expected. The Expo is likely to boost demand for locally produced fresh chicken immensely with the emphasis on premium restaurants and hotels. Those six months will open up many opportunities for producers who are up for the challenge.”

Arabian Farms Downflow

We needed the most efficient machines producing top quality products.

Dr. Suheel Ahmed
CEO of Arabian Farms Investment LLC

The process

Marel equipped the Arabian Farms plant in Al Ain with a 3,000 bph [50 bpm] processing line starting with the kill line, which includes scalder, plucker, head puller and feet cutting. Next comes evisceration with a VOC for combined vent opening and opening cut followed by a Nuova CoreTech automatic eviscerator. After semi-automated giblet harvesting, a NIC cropper and an additional washer for cleaning and wetting finish the evisceration job.
Products are chilled in a DownFlow+ air chilling tunnel, unique to the region. Arabian Farms’ management did quite some investigation on yield loss during chilling and came to the conclusion that this way of air chilling was the most effective and efficient for them.
A SmartLine Grader grades whole birds. Some 50 to 60% of the products go to the ACM-NT Compact line for cut-up. This automated system cuts wings and whole legs or separate thighs and drums. Front halves go to a Marel cone line for filleting. A TargetBatcher makes fixed-weight product batches.

Water treatment

Marel also installed Arabian Farms’ rendering and water treatment plant. First, physical pretreatment already removes half the pollution from the wastewater collected. Biological processes in several basins remove the rest until surface aeration in the last basin separates biological sludge from purified water.
Dr. Suheel comments, “Al Ain is in the desert and water is a precious commodity. Still, we need quite some water to run our plant. Our wastewater treatment plant means that we don’t have to discard our used water. We have plans to irrigate our 800,000m2 [197 acres] of land, plant trees and convert it into a green zone, making our humble contribution to the environment.”

About Arabian Farms

Arabian Farms is a Saudi-based company with two shareholders, Sedco Holding and Bugshan Investments. Arabian Farms started in 1978 with an egg-producing farm in the outskirts of Riyadh. In 1999 the company expanded to the Emirates. The Dubai entity soon became the flagship for the group, producing 120 million eggs annually. With a firm commitment to quality, service and product innovation, Arabian Farms has built a very strong brand identity under the name SAHA.
Although 60% of the eggs in UAE are produced locally, locally produced chicken meat accounts for just 20% of the market. The rest is imported mostly as frozen chicken. To grab this huge potential, Arabian Farms invested in the greenfield project in Al Ain to produce 6,000 tonnes [6613 US tons] of SAHA chicken meat per annum.

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