Phoenix Global, the ambition of a produce leader
The Dubai-based group has become a major agribusiness operator in several sectors, mainly cereals, rice and fresh produce.
Phoenix Global has become the second largest rice company in the world, with about 4 million tons traded. Its agribusiness division has a turnover of over €2.5 billion and more than 150,000ha cultivated.
“Our goal is to become one of the world’s leading fresh produce companies, too,” said Mudasir Tak, global head of the produce division.
Based in Dubai, Phoenix Global has developed a regional distribution network in the fruit and vegetables sector. Its product categories and sources are constantly expanding, as is the case with pineapple from Costa Rica and Indonesia, bananas from Ecuador, cherries from the Caucuses and Uzbekistan, and citrus from South Africa.
“Our strategic focus for the future is to invest in products in countries which also have a major domestic market,” said Tak. For this season, the company plans to invest in fruit and vegetables production in countries where it is already operating with cereals and rice, starting with India, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Australia. “We have offices in 24 countries, which helps us rapidly expand our trading or production operations with fresh produce as well,” said Tak.
Phoenix will soon have around 1,000ha of apple plantations in Kazakhstan, as well as 1,300ha in India. The group is also showing an interest in Africa for fruit and vegetables, where it already has strong agribusiness operations; indeed, its Zarah brand is the number-one rice brand traded in the continent. “Our philosophy, and the key to our success, is to ensure a balanced integration of production and trade, and between domestic and export markets,” said Tak. India is the group’s largest production venture to date in the field of fruit and vegetables, with its own production of baby corn, okra, chilli peppers and asparagus. All of its farms are certified with BRC, GLOBALG.A.P. and F2F. The products are mainly exported to the UK, as well as to Germany, France and the Nordic countries. “By December, we will reach 1,000 acres of our own vegetable production,” said Tak.
Phoenix Global has invested in 1,500ha of high-density orchards in northern Kashmir. With this venture, which cost a total of US$180 million, the group aims to reach 200,000 tons of production within six years. The planting materials are imported directly from Italy, since Phoenix Global has its own customs and quarantine warehousing. Asia is also an export priority for the company, which counts on the support of major investment banks like Alphabank and FIC. Ukraine is today the group’s second largest operating country for fresh produce, with a production of more than 700ha of garlic, onions, butternut squash and asparagus. Phoenix International’s cultivates over 25,000ha of cereals in Ukraine, owns grain and rice factories, and employs 600 workers.
‘Ripe Planet’ hydroponics in Australia
The company is also making inroads into the Australian market, both in terms of production and imports.
“Our goal is to become the number-one importer of US produce and a major domestic producer,” said Tak.
To this end, Phoenix has invested in ‘Ripe Planet’ – high-technology production for specialising in hydroponic vegetables. Through this system, it produces adapted varieties of lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables and supplies major Australian supermarkets, like Coles and Woolworths. The company has also started the pre-financing of citrus and grape production for domestic and export markets.
“Our strategy is now to build and grow our own brand globally, starting with the countries in which we are operating investing,” said Tak.