For decades we have been told of the virtues of milk in human growth and development, but with increasing allergies and health awareness, a pint of the white stuff comes in a myriad of different forms, as Catering News ME discovered in a recent study of the dairy marketplace
EMIRATES INDUSTRY FOR CAMEL MILK & PRODUCTS
According to Mutasher Al Badry, Deputy General Manager at Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products (EICMP) dairy farming worldwide is undergoing a tremendous change, especially due to changing customer expectations.
Al Badry says: “Years ago, quantity was the defining aspect in cow’s dairy production, which led to an unnatural and unhealthy development in this particular industry. Huge farming ‘factories’ were set up, keeping animals in poor conditions. Hormone treatments to increase milk production became a standard.
“Nowadays we see a growing awareness on the consumer side, especially in Western countries. Human health and animal welfare are be- coming major factors in the consumers’ decision making. Hormone loaded products are proven to be damaging to human health, especially for a child. The slogan ‘Heathy Milk from Happy Cows’ is gaining popularity. This development leads to a growing demand for pure and natural products. We see this in a strengthening of the organic and bio product market.”
Al Badry suggests that Halal certification is also very relevant today, increasingly seen as a ‘seal of product quality and pureness’ globally.
He adds: “For our catering clients it is very im- portant to stand out from the crowd and to offer something special and extraordinary. Therefore, new and most of all innovative products are in high demand.”
Another essential factor for orders is compli- ance with the caterers’ quality and hygiene poli- cies and standards, which are usually quite high. And solutions in terms of using a product range in recipes are also a supporting factor for catering companies to be encouraged to place orders for an uncommon and unique product such as camel milk.
Al Badry says: “Most importantly we stick out by the fact that we don’t only run the world’s largest camel farm, fully dedicated to commer- cial camel dairy production, but we are also the only camel milk producer that is compliant with major international standards in food production and food safety.
“Our processing and farm site is not only ISO 22000 certified, but we are also the worldwide first and so far only camel milk producer to re- ceive the permit to export their dairy products into the EU and to the Malaysian market; both of these permits are known to be very hard to achieve due to the stringent regulations. We were also successful in obtaining the Malaysian Jakim Halal certificate; one of the most rigorous Halal certifications in the world.”
Being already represented quite well in the GCC, EICMP is planning to expand its market in this region within the next months. “Cur- rently, we aren’t facing any competition in ex- port, especially when it comes to quality and brand awareness in this region. Due to this fact, we hope to occupy about 65% of the camel milk product market in the GCC by end of 2015,” says Al Badry.
Within the overall dairy market, including all other bovine milks, EICMP is hoping for a 2% market share in the GCC. Al Badry adds: “Our biggest market so far is the GCC market, where we managed to leave a footprint, particularly in the UAE. Camel milk is widely unknown in the markets we are reaching out to now, yet in gen- eral we are receiving very positive feedback from our distributors abroad.
“Awareness is steadily increasing and we are very optimistic that our camel milk will con- vince through quality and health benefits even in countries where it is considered ’exotic’. We see for example a tremendous potential in the UK and the Malaysian markets; both of them mar- kets we have started reaching out to.”
With all products produced in the UAE, the export operation faced numerous challenges to begin with, regarding logistics, as fresh dairy products have a shorter shelf life than ultra-high and tetra-packed items.
Despite the fact that camel milk, which is low in fat and pure in its content, can be kept fresh and unspoiled easily for a longer period than most milks, EICMP still has to follow regula- tions set for cow’s milk; this means a shelf life of five days within the GCC. Other markets such as UK, Malaysia and Jordan grant a shelf life of 15 days for fresh camel milk products, which makes catering to these markets easier.
Al Badry says: “The short shelf life is the reason why we have to rely on airfreight to our neighbouring countries, which ensures the fast- est possible delivery. This has a negative impact on cost and alignment of supply and demand and geographical coverage.”
An important legislative change for EICMP was the listing of camels by EU health authori- ties as an animal providing milk fit for human consumption. Al Badry adds: “This opened the doors for us to reach out to untapped markets, which naturally changed the path of our com- pany growth. We needed to react quickly to the growing demand in these markets, which for sure affected the growth rate of our herd and processing facilities as well as the product devel- opment side of the business.”
Camelicious camel milk is available in plain and flavoured varieties including strawberry, dates, saffron, and chocolate, and in the near future it will launch nine flavour varieties of camel milk gelato as well as a real novelty: camel milk butter.
In the Middle East, there are few who dare venture into dairy farming, due to the harsh condi- tions, constant heat and dry lands. Al Rawabi was one of the pioneering companies that dared to make that vision a reality, under the direction of Dr Ahmed Eltigani, company founder in 1989 and general manager today.
Al Rawabi started with just 500 imported cows, and today proudly holds a herd of 12,500, located at the farm in the Dubai desert.
Eltigani has seen many trends and changes to his business, with the marker today focused on caring for animal well-being. He says: “With global trends of healthy lifestyles, growing or- ganic foods, and so on, we have implemented the latest technologies for cooling and show- ering our cows to keep them heat stress free, and happy.
“We apply the automatic cooling system that turns on immediately when outside temperature goes above 21°C, and we shower our cows several times daily. We even dry them off with soft paper tissues.”
“We have learnt to know that only a stress free cow is a happy cow. Each cow gives us around 31 litres of milk on a daily basis, which is in par with some of the most advanced European farms.”
All Al Rawadi cows are kept hormone free and fed only high quality feeds, from strictly approved suppliers, to enable high milk capacities and good nutrition. Eltigani adds: “We have applied a system called a Total Mixed Ratio (TMR), which enables us, through ear tags, to track each cow from the day of their birth.
“This system automatically calculates the nutritional values per cow’s requirements, and the exact quantity of feeds to be given. Our team of 15 veterinary doctors and their assistants are on 24/7 disposal for every need that our cows might have.”
Eltigani suggests that another trend is environmental sustainability. He adds: “We take care to minimise our ecological footprint, using all the water from the farm for the land irrigation purposes, so we save water – a rare source in a desert.”
Innovation has always been at the core of corporate thinking at Al Rawadi. It was the first company to introduce plastic bottles in 1991, the first dairy company in the GCC to introduce pasteurised fresh juices, and the first dairy company in the GCC to introduce functional, healthy products.
Eltigani says: “We launched Nutree Boost in 2012 as first functional Laban enriched with oats, vitamins and minerals, and then Omega 3, we also launched the first fresh milk enriched with Omega 3 fatty acids in 2012. As a crown of that vision, Al Rawabi launched the Super Milk in 2014 as first fresh milk fortified with Vitamin D3.”
The “Super Milk” was launched to actively ad- dress and fight the nation’s concerns regarding Vitamin D deficiency, which affects 78% of the UAE’s population. “We differentiate from others by thinking ahead of our time, and finding new ways to answer consumers’ growing concerns, health being the first one,” says Eltigani.
Al Rawabi is actively present in the UAE, Oman and Qatar. Distribution recently began in Kuwait and the company has big plans for geo- graphical expansion in other countries across the GCC. The UAE market, is currently Al Rawadi’s largest market globally, where it holds a commanding third of the dairy market (RMS Nielsen, 2014/2015), and is the number one in juices (RMS Nielsen, 2014/2015).
All Al Rawabi products are manufactured at the farm and production facilities in Dubai. The company maintains a cold chain in terms of supply and logistics – where the temperature is always kept below 5°C – from the farm to siloes, production facilities, storage area, trucks for distribution and store fridges. Eltigani says: “We don’t encounter many logistical issues in the UAE market, but in other countries we have to keep up a fast pace of delivery due to shelf life being cut for the time we spend delivering the products to stores.”
The most important specifications for ca- tering clients of Al Rawabi, in placing new orders, is big packs, taste, quality and price. The latest innovation for Al Rawabi is the Su- per Milk, but there are also big plans for new launches in 2015, although Eltigani was un- able to disclose them, “as all projects are being realised”.
The greatest impact on Al Rawabi’s business is the government control of prices for fresh dairy and juice products. Eltigani explains: “Our business has grown enormously. But, the selling prices have remained unchanged for years, while our costs of production have gone up. This has also affected our profit. But we do not give up, since our role is to serve the consumers the dairy and juice products for their daily needs.
“We feed the nation, in a way. We see con- sumers shifting to healthier lifestyle, seeking products that can help them feel healthy, more active, look better, basically, feel good about themselves. Also, there is a growing concern coming both from the government, and consum- er side, for children’s health. This will also greatly support our efforts for the future in providing the products that are functional and healthy, and let us not forget, tasty.
“We are very proud of our community role, as we have continued to deliver fresh and quality products for 25 years to 10,000 stores in the UAE, Oman and Qatar on a daily basis.”
CENTRE NATIONAL INTERPROFESSIONNEL DE L’ÉCONOMIE LAITIÈRE
Centre National Interprofessionnel de L’économie Laitière (CNIEL), the French Dairy Interbranch Organisation, was created in 1973 by French milk producers and pro- cessors, as a non-profit association. CNIEL meets two key objectives: to facilitate rela- tions between milk producers and dairy pro- cessors and to promote a positive image of milk and dairy products.
Today, France is the second largest European dairy producer; €4bn has been invest- ed over the last five years in modernising farms, with the conversion of livestock build ings to improve the comfort of the animals and the storage and spreading of solid and liquid manure.
French dairy farms adhere to a national charter of good cattle breeding practices, drawn up in 1999, and the genetics of the cows are closely monitored to enhance the robust- ness of stock and preserve biodiversity. This charter demands the respect of precise criteria to enhance regulatory standards: traceability and identification of the animals, health of the herd, feed quality, monitoring of milk quality, good hygiene practice, animal health and wel- fare, respect for the environment. An auditing system ensures the smooth operation of the programme at every level.
Christophe Spotti, responsible for exter- nal markets at CNIEL, says: “When buying French dairy products, clients are definitely looking for freshness and premium quality, exemplary food safety and unique flavours. Current trends focus on the bio agriculture and bio dairy products.”
France exports the equivalent of 40% of its milk, approximately 10 billion litres, in the form of a wide range of dairy products. In 2013 France exported €307bn dairy products to the Middle East, which represented an in- crease in revenue of 74% in five years.
Spotti adds: “As the jewel in the crown of French gastronomy and expertise, cheese is associated with the values of diversity, qual- ity and taste. In 2012, the French were the world’s leading consumers of cheese at 26.2 kg per inhabitant per year.
“Today, France boasts 1,200 varieties of cheese, divided into different types, which are linked to the distinctive features of their regions of origin, including the climate, soil and undersoil. There are therefore many different types of land, as well as farms and farming traditions.
“Their quality comes from experience, expertise and technique, handed down from generation to generation and enhanced over time. Each cheese has its own distinctive smell, flavour and texture resulting from a particular region or maturation period. These cheeses tell a story about geography, people and landscapes.”
The European Union has named 49 French dairy products as protected designation of origin products. This means that France has a traditional and ancestral know-how for dairy production.The French dairy industry is a key driver of the French economy, recording a trade sur- plus of €3.6bn in 2013. With 250,000 jobs across France, the industry generates rev- enues of €27bn, making it France’s second- largest agrifood business, after meat.
It’s an export-focused industry with four out of 10 litres of all milk collected in France exported to other countries. However, the most exported French dairy product is cheese, which represents 44% of all French dairy exports.
The French dairy industry has a renowned milk quality expertise, at both a scientific and technical level, which enables France to play an influential role in the development of international food standards.
In this way, France, as a member of the International Dairy Federation (IDF), has actively contributed to the Milk and Milk Products Committee of the Codex Alimentarius, set up by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation to develop these standards.
France is responsible, for example, for the regulatory definition of milk, which prevents plant-based juices (e.g., soya) from using the term. The global consumption of dairy products is growing by 2.5% annually, driven by emerging countries. Consumers in the GCC are more and more attracted by dairy prod- ucts that offer health benefits, ranging from anti-oxidants to pro-biotics, and French dairy products have high nutritional values; Cream is rich in water (62%) and provides vitamins (A and D in the case of whole cream).
Milk and milk products consumption is set to reach 1.428 billion tonnes in 2015 in the UAE (an increase by 5.5% from 2011) and 4.326 billion tonnes in Saudi Arabia.
Spotti adds: “The GCC is a region with high potential for French dairy products especially since the population is health conscious and growing fast.”
Koita is a premium foods and distribution com- pany based in the United States and Dubai. Koita sells organic milk, natural coconut water, premium snacks, tea and other products.
The company was created by Mustafa Koita, an experienced and successful American busi nessman who has resided in Dubai for almost a decade. Mustafa and his family have always been health conscious and passionate about premium and organic foods. That inspired Mustafa to launch Koita, with the ultimate goal of bringing great premium and organic foods to the every- day consumer in the Middle East and Africa.
Mustafa Koita, founder and CEO, says: “We believe organic consumption will continue to grow as it has in the West. In addition, it offers a great opportunity for the HORECA industry to offer a new set of premium products / recipes to the growing organic consumer base.
“I know when my family and I go out we’ve been noticing so many more organic options on the menus all over the UAE, and yes, we gladly pay more for the organic versions.”
Today, Koita ensures that its cows are grass fed, producing milk in their natural habitat, and ensuring the strictest organic certification guide- lines are adhered to.”
Koita says: “Currently our HORECA cus- tomers (organic cafes, organic ice cream shops, schools, etc…) are looking for high quality products that ensure the recipes they are used in meet the ‘organic standard’ and taste great. Once this is completed then it comes down to supporting their supply chain basics – product availability, turnaround time on orders, and a fair price. We’ve been working very hard to meet all their needs.”
Originating in the UAE, Koita’s largest mar- ket remains the GCC, but it has seen a lot of demand coming from key parts of Africa and even the Indian subcontinent. Koita says: “We’re extremely thorough with our market activation
plans and make sure we’ve met consumers in every market before entering. Nonetheless, we have an aggressive expansion plan underway and see lots of growth opportunity still within our region.
“In a short period of time we’ve become the market leader for the Long Life Organic Milk Category in volume and dollar value at a number of UAE Major Tier 1 retail chains. In addition, we’re now proud to say our organic milk is being sold in Kuwait, in Geant, and Saudi Arabia, in Safeway and Tamimi markets.”
Currently Koita produces in Europe and has no issues with logistics. “There is a mature and reliable set of logistic options from the EU to the Middle East and within the Middle East itself. Having a company in Jebel Ali (Koita FZE) has added advantages as it is one of the largest ports in the region,” adds Koita.
As well as being organic, Koita adds the much-needed vitamins A and D3 into its milk, which is currently sold in one litre cartons with whole and low fat options. Koita adds: “We do plan to introduce different sizes and flavours in the near future.”