Al Barakah Dates plans to double the size of its dates manufacturing unit in Dubai to become the world's largest privately owned date factory.
The expanded facility in Dubai Industrial City will be capable of processing more than 100,000 tonnes of dates and date products annually – equivalent to almost half of the UAE’s entire domestic harvest, the company said in a statement on Sunday.
"This expansion will allow us to further grow our range of organic and conventional date products to cater to the growing needs of health-conscious consumers around the world," Yousuf Saleem, managing director of Al Barakah Dates, said.
Date production has become lucrative as demand for the fruit – often considered a healthier alternative for sugary products – picks up. Improving technologies have also helped develop dates as a vegan alternative to other sugar or fructose-based products, according to Al Barakah.
Al Barakah, which produces over 65,000 tonnes of dates, syrup and paste and imports to 75 countries, said its expanded factory will cover over 600,000 square feet and is set to be completed in 2022.
The factory will also be equipped with more than 6,500 solar panels to offset 3,000 tonnes of emissions per year.
The rising appeal of dates to consumers has also led to investors tapping into the sector.
Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi-based Al Foah, the world’s largest date processing and packaging company, was merged with food and beverage company Agthia.
Founded in 2005, Al Foah sells an average of over 108,000 metric tonnes of dates annually. It exports to 45 countries around the world including India, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
The deal with Agthia is expected to make the combined entity among the top 10 players in the Mena's food and beverage market.