Al Ghurair's new Abu Dhabi poultry farm to boost UAE food supply chain

Project to create employment opportunities for more than 200 individuals

Al Ghurair Foods' 680,000-square-metre facility will be built over an area of 7.2 square kilometres at Kezad, and is scheduled to become operational in 2025. Photo: Al Ghurair
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Al Ghurair Foods has started developing its new poultry farm at Khalifa Economic Zones Abu Dhabi, the first of its three planned mega food processing projects aimed at boosting the UAE’s production capabilities and food security.

The 680,000-square-metre facility, built over an area of 7.2 square kilometres, is scheduled to become operational in 2025 and will create employment opportunities for more than 200 individuals, the unit of the Dubai-based Al Ghurair conglomerate said on Thursday.

It is part of a 50-year lease agreement between Al Ghurair Foods and Kezad Group signed in April last year, in which the former had pledged an investment of more than Dh1 billion ($272 million).

The poultry farm for broilers – chickens raised specifically for meat production – would be followed by a starch processing plant, said to be the first of its kind in the region, and another project in Abu Dhabi Food Hub at Kezad.

The project allows Al Ghurair Foods "to serve the growing demand for high-quality poultry products here in the UAE", Al Ghurair chief executive John Iossifidis said in the statement.

"Working with local partners such as Kezad in turn enables us to be closer to our customers, while fulfilling the UAE’s national ambitions to secure food supplies and increase self-sufficiency in food production.”

The UAE is ramping up efforts to ensure a stable food supply chain and boost food security with incentives and developments to attract investments into the key economic sector.

It aims to increase the contribution of food and agriculture to its economy by $10 billion and create 20,000 jobs in the next five years amid measures to improve the country's food security, Abdulla bin Touq, Minister of Economy, said in September.

The UAE's National Food Security Strategy 2051 aims to put the country at the top of the Global Food Security Index by that year.

Abu Dhabi's food industry is one of the largest contributors to the emirate's economy, accounting for about 36 per cent of the Emirates' food processing industry, latest data from the Industrial Development Bureau showed.

The sector spans a plethora of food production-related activities, including those dealing with meat and meat products, dairy, oils, grain mill products, beverages, confectionery, bakery products and animal feeds, according to the IDB, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development unit that regulates the industrial sector.

Additionally, in January, Etihad Cargo, Abu Dhabi Airports and the Abu Dhabi Food Hub agreed to develop an air corridor to diversify trading and investments in food.

Sustainable methods have also been introduced, including vertical farming from the likes of Abu Dhabi clean energy company Masdar and Dubai's Emirates Airline, and a portable farm from Abu Dhabi University.

Chicken, meanwhile, is an important and popular meat in the UAE, but domestic production expansion is unable to fulfil rising demand, the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service said in a March report.

As such, chicken meat imports are forecast to increase by 3 per cent in 2024, while production is projected to rise 7 per cent this year, spurred by improved margins, with consumption increasing 3 per cent, it said.

Globally, poultry consumption is expected to grow 15 per cent by 2032, and would account for 41 per cent of the protein consumed from all meat sources by that year, the Agricultural Outlook 2023-2032 report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation showed.

The Al Ghurair-Kezad partnership "is underpinned by a shared vision to contribute to expansion of the UAE’s domestic food security", said Mohamed Al Ahmed, chief executive of Kezad Group.

The future of Middle East food security - Business Extra

The future of Middle East food security - Business Extra

This will be "able to support the UAE’s long-term goals, while providing a capable and innovative ecosystem for our partners", he said.

Al Ghurair Investment is one of the largest diversified family business groups in the Middle East, with operations in foods and resources, properties, construction and services, energy, mobility and ventures.

Al Ghurair Foods, founded in 1976, manufactures and supplies food in the UAE, shipping more than 10 million tonnes each year to 25 countries.

Updated: May 16, 2024, 12:18 PM