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Sustainable vegetable production in Saudi Arabian desert under 80 hectares of glass

Sustainable vegetable production in Saudi Arabian desert under 80 hectares of glass
Photos:  Debets Schalke

Dava corporation, owned by the Al Batal family, recently signed a new deal with Debets Schalke for the expansion of Dava’s glasshouse facilities in the Al-Kharj region of Saudi Arabia. In response to increased demand for fresh premium quality vegetables, Dava corporation is announcing a series of greenhouse projects designed to provide sustainably farmed and locally grown vegetables. In 2019, Dava corporation entered into a partnership with Debets Schalke for a 44 hectares greenhouse complex. Together with the 36 hectares expansion, the firm will own 80 hectares of glass acreage. The deal is part of the Vision 2030 that contributes to sustainable developments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

The Dava project, which will cover more than 80 hectares, is spread over 5 high technology greenhouse projects. At this moment the construction is in full swing. The first greenhouse project is almost complete and the second greenhouse project is at an advanced stage. Debets Schalke has started the engineering and delivering of the greenhouse materials for the other 3 greenhouse projects at the different locations in the AlKharj region. Groundwork is completed at these projects. 

Wim van Weele, sales export manager at Debets Schalke, said: “Plans for the massive expansion were already on the table before the CoVid19 outbreak. The global outbreak underlined the importance of food independence and food safety. Of course, the CoVid19 outbreak meant we also had to be inventive in order to remotely supervise the greenhouse project with an eye for detail. Working remotely requires extra attention to all parts of the greenhouse project. We also faced logistic challenges, but despite everything we managed to get everything to the different locations on time.” 

In the Netherlands alone,138 million euros worth of fruit and vegetables were exported to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2019. According to experts, global food production will have to double by 2050. Therefore, food safety is high on the KSA agenda, all the more so because local production is severely limited by a chronic freshwater shortage. 

 

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Commissioner Hogan continues diplomatic offensive in Saudi Arabia and Iran

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Agriculture and rural development Commissioner Phil Hogan will continue his series of diplomatic offensives on behalf of European food and drink products with visits to Saudi Arabia and Iran on 7-12 November 2017. As usual, Commissioner Hogan will be accompanied by a delegation of senior representatives from European food and drink companies and producer organisations.

The aim of the visit is to enhance cooperation between the EU, Saudi Arabia and Iran in the field of agriculture and rural development, in particular with a view to further developing bilateral trade in agri-food products between the EU and the two Middle Eastern countries.

Saudi Arabia is already the EU’s sixth biggest export market for agri-food products, with sales there of €4.6 billion in 2016. As a net food importer and with a growing population of young people and rising disposable incomes, Saudi Arabia has the potential to become an increasingly important market for European agri-food producers.

There is little established trade in agri-food products between the EU and Iran, but bilateral exchanges have increased significantly in the past year following the so-called nuclear deal with Iran that has seen the country emerge from the diplomatic wilderness and back onto the world stage. It is now an aspiring WTO member and with a growing economy and a population of 80 million, the potential for increasing trade in EU agri-food products is significant.

The business delegation of senior figures from the EU agri-food sector that will accompany Commissioner Hogan on his visits will consist of representatives from the sectors with the most significant potential for trade and cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Iran.

For Saudi Arabia, this includes poultry and beef meat, dairy, fresh & frozen fruit and vegetables, olive oil, bakery, confectionery and chocolate products, cereals for human use and fodder/cereals for animal use, among others.

For Iran, the key sectors are dairy, meat (notably beef and sheep meat), olive oil, cereals and oilseeds, food and feed additives, and genetic materials (both of plant and animal origin). Other sectors such as fruit and vegetables or confectionery are also considered potentially interesting for trade with Iran.

Members of the business delegation will have their own business-to-business programme during the visit to Saudi Arabia and Iran, including business forums with local operators in Riyadh and Tehran. These meetings will offer the European businesses the chance to explore the possibilities and requirements for doing business in Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as an opportunity to make direct business contacts with local companies.

The draft programmes of the business delegation activities are available here for Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Businesses or organisations wishing to apply to join the business delegation can do so here before 10 July 2017. Those with experience in the above sectors, and/or with experience or interest in halal goods will be prioritised.
 

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Semar Al-Mosem, the main Golden logistics company

Semar Al-Mosem is Godlen's main subsidiary, responsible for importing the fruit and trading it in Saudi Arabia. The main distribution channels include supermarkets, hotels and mini-markets.

Jeddah-based Arab company Golden is one of the leading importers of citrus, stone fruit and apples, as well as vegetables such as broccoli and lettuce, and in all their varieties.

Golden imports five container loads of produce, from various countries, on a weekly basis, supplying its customers with all kinds of fruit and vegetables year-round.

The firm’s main import markets are currently Jordan, Egypt, Sudan and Spain.

“The good thing about the first countries mentioned is that we can have the produce here within a couple of days, whereas with Spain we have to wait for a week or two, but the quality we find in Spain is unique,” said sales manager Adil Ahmed Ba-Saadest.

Golden has its own logistics companies in charge of distribution. Semar Al-Mosem is the company’s main subsidiary, responsible for importing the fruit and trading it in Saudi Arabia.

The main distribution channels include supermarkets, hotels and mini-markets.

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Alwasma opens up to Spanish and American products

The Saudi Arabian importing company Alwasma is currently seeking new flavours and quality, which is why it wants to work with the Spanish market.

Alwasma is a Saudi Arabian importing company from Jeddah. The company supplies its country with various food products, including oranges, mandarins, cherries, grapes and apples.

Alwasma imports 6 container loads a month to be able to supply all its clients 365 days a year, marketing products in different places, such as South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Indio and Morocco.

The company is currently seeking new flavours and quality, which is why it wants to work with the Spanish market. “If we’re importing from Spain to Saudi Arabia, we know that from the logistical standpoint we have the produce home within a week or 10 days, but we’re impatient to get into this market, because in other countries we can’t get the same quality as we find here,” said Ahmed Kedah Al Thebiti.

Alwasma’s distribution channels include hotels, supermarkets, minimarkets and similar outlets.

Al Thebiti said that, unlike in 2015, the economy of the sector in general has slumped, but the company has its own steady customers which remain unaffected as all of them have grown. 

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The world of premium produce at Danube supermarkets

Danube Hypermarkets are not only differentiated by their exclusive quality selection and wide assortment, each store is a true experience of enjoyment for the consumer, since each has a different design.

With the most recent opening of a store in Gezan in May, Danube Group now boasts more than 20 premium hypermarkets in the major cities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The group is also planning to establish in other countries of the region, such as Yemen.

Danube Hypermarkets are not only differentiated by their exclusive quality selection and wide assortment, each store is a true experience of enjoyment for the consumer, since each has a different design.

“The exclusive design of each store is a unique concept of the Danube Hypermarkets since the beginning of the chain almost 20 years ago” said Ahmed Ali, head of the produce department at Danube.

An assortment of more than 300 items is sold on a daily basis, a majority of them being imported by air. “Airshipped products represent more than 60% of their sale value”.

Danube offers all kind of vegetables and from many other countries around the world.

The more “exotic” specialties are also more successful among the Saudi consumers. Among them are custard apples, cherimoya, Guna bana, persimmon, also all kinds of berries. “We provide them with direct imports from the US, Europe, Africa and Asia” said Ali.

Local items still represent more than 50% of the vegetables sold at Danube, mainly tomato, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce.

Thanks to wining best of the chain on premium quality, the overall sales at Danube are growing at about 20% per year or more, which is at least double the market average.

This article first appeared in edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue here: www.eurofresh-distribution.com/magazine/143-2016-mayjune

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Al Bashiri restructures its storage and starts importing bananas from Ecuador

Al Bashiri is a company with a 12-year history in importing supplies in different markets and supermarkets in Saudi Arabia: fruit and vegetables from Argentina, Chile, the US, South Africa, France, Italy, Egypt and Cyprus, among other countries

Al Bashiri is a company with a 12-year history in importing supplies in different markets and supermarkets in Saudi Arabia: fruit and vegetables from Argentina, Chile, the US, South Africa, France, Italy, Egypt and Cyprus, among other countries.

The company currently imports 15 containers a week to Jeddah, distributed through 1,040 channels.

General manager Ahmed Al Bashiri (pictured) said it is progressively growing year after year. Today the Al Bashiri company is working on expanding its own warehouse, which is due for completion in two years.

“We want to start importing bananas from Ecuador. It’s the only product we need to provide our customers, but we are growing year on year with our warehouses to take good care of the product we bring,” Al Bashiri said.

It is worth noting that this is because the firm works with fruit and vegetables and each product needs a different kind of care. So Ahmed has his own company for handling the storage service

This article appeared in edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine in the Special Report / Med & Middle East. Read more from that issue here: www.eurofresh-distribution.com/magazine/143-2016-mayjune

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Saudi Arabia: the biggest consumer in the region

The food and beverages sector recorded an increase of 2.1%, with imports into Saudi Arabia coming from 40 countries around the world, mainly with fruit and vegetables

The market is growing by over 5% a year with fruit and vegetables the most imported food.

It is estimated that the rise in food consumption in the GCC countries between 2012 and 2017 will be around 3.1% a year, reaching 49.1 million metric tons of food by the end of 2017, with Saudi Arabia accounting for 60% of total consumption in the region. This growth is attributed to rapid population growth in these countries, as well as tourists. In addition to an increase in income levels in the region, it is predicted that food consumption per capita will grow from 971.2 kg in 2015 to 983 kg in 2017.

Fresh fruit and vegetables: the most imported food products

The food and beverages sector recorded an increase of 2.1%, with imports into Saudi Arabia coming from 40 countries around the world, mainly with fruit and vegetables. The local consumer market for these is worth US$ 6 billion a year, the main sources being: Chile, the Philippines, South Africa, India, Pakistan, France, the United States, China, Egypt and Italy, among others. More than 200 varieties of fruit are sold in local markets, 40% of which are bananas, apples and oranges. It is estimated that the annual growth of this market is 5%. The market size of Saudi Arabia, which represents European fruit consumption of more than 50 thousand tons, is valued at US$ 133 million. The Jeddah fresh market is the second largest in the region after the Saudi capital, Riyadh, with a size of 3,000 tons, made up of 2,000 t of vegetables and 1,000 t of fruit that arrives daily from the central market. The price of fruit in Saudi Arabia is the cheapest in the world.

Major investment in hypermarkets: the strategy to attract consumers

Retail stores have invested about US$ 40 billion in hypermarkets over the past 3 years. It is estimated that in future, after they become the choice for consumers again, this will not exceed US$ 21 billion. The percentage of consumers grew by 30%, as did their desire to buy their monthly needs in these shops, although there is still a segment of the population who prefer to buy in supermarkets, mini-markets and small grocery stores. The total number of retail stores in all regions of the kingdom comes to 600, while the number of hypermarkets is 70 and most are concentrated in large cities. Certain products such as fresh fruit and vegetables require special attention from the hyper- and supermarkets’ management. The leading chain in Saudi Arabia is Panda with more than 30 years in the market. They have 400 shops in 40 cities, covering the entire territory of the kingdom. Next comes Othaim, Danube, Bin-Dawood, Tamimi, Manuel, Al Raya, Farm and Carrefour.

Dammam, Jeddah and Jizan are the main ports

King Abdul Aziz Port is the largest port in the Arabian Gulf. Located in the middle of the eastern coast in Dammam, it is the main point of entry for foreign goods to the eastern and central region of the kingdom. Jeddah Islamic Port is characteristic for its geographical location on the Red Sea coast between the most important ports on the commercial sea routes. It has gained historic significance as the main entrance to the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina, being the largest in the kingdom, and handling more than 65% of the volume of goods entering Saudi Arabia. The port provides handling services for all types of loads by means of highly specialised terminals. Ideally located on the south coast of the Red Sea, Jizan Port is close to the main east-west routes for Europe, the Far East and the Arabian Gulf. It is a modern, well-equipped deep water port with a highly trained workforce. Finally, other locations are the King Fahd Industrial Port in Jubail and King Fahd Port in Yanbu. 

About the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Located in the far southwest of Asia, it is surrounded by the Persian Gulf, the UAE and Qatar to the east; the Red Sea to the west; Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan to the north; and Oman to the south. Occupying about 4/5 of the Arabian Peninsula, it has a total area of about 2 million km2. Its population is about 30 million people and its GDP grew by 6.81% until 2012, with the per capita GDP standing at US$ 25,000 at current prices. The cost of living in January 2015 was 2.2% higher than the same month in 2014.

This article first appeared in edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue here: http://www.eurofresh-distribution.com/magazine/143-2016-mayjune