Dubai ripe for oilseed processing plants

DUBAI — "Dubai is an ideal location for large-scale oilseed processing plants," said Khalid Kalban, managing director and CEO of Dubai Investments PJSC and chairman of Edible Oil Company (D) LLC (EOCD). He was speaking on the first day of the two-day Globoil International Forum — a forum for research, analysis and dissemination of knowledge on vegetable oil and related industries. Dubai Investments has about 22,000 shareholders, including the Government of Dubai, Emirates Bank International and National Bank of Dubai, and has over 33 companies in its portfolio.

By Lucia Dore (Senior Correspondent)

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Published: Sun 23 Apr 2006, 10:50 AM

Last updated: Thu 16 Nov 2023, 10:43 AM

Kalban said that although a processing unit is usually located where raw materials are readily available or where there is an existing market for the finished products, the availability of excellent infrastructure facilities in Dubai and its easy access to the GCC market, "define the UAE as a unique and strategic location".

In addition, since the GCC and other countries in the Middle East were the main market for soy meal, it makes sense to have a plant located there, said Kalban. Soybean oil is also sold to vegetable oil processors in the GCC countries and the Indian sub continent. South East Asia too is an important market, where soy meal is used for feeding poultry and livestock. There were also opportunities to exploit potential in Africa and Europe, he said.

To tap the growing regional and international demand for oil seed processing- the world oilseed sector has grown nine-fold since 1964 — and to maximise the benefits from Dubai's strategic location, Dubai Investments set up EOCD in 2000. It is one of two oilseed crushing plants in the GCC region and both are in Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone, said Kalban. The plant has the capacity to crush 2,200 metric ton of soybean per day, with the built-in potential to crush other oilseeds such as sunflower seeds and canola.

Kalban said the EOCD had some distinct advantages over crushing plants elsewhere in the world. First, it could supply freshly crushed soy meal and oil for the region rather than relying on shipments from South America, where products tend to deteriorate during the long journey. Second, products could be made available at short notice, within two to 10 days compared with 30-days shipment from South America. EOCD can also cater to small volumes whereas South American suppliers can only supply bulk. Meal can also be packed in bags, as buyers require. Pricing too is competitive.

A major percentage of EOCD's soybeans is sourced from the US and South America, principally Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Sunflower seeds are imported from Argentina and the Black Sea and canola seeds are obtained from Canada and Australia.

Citing figures from the Ministry of Planning, Kalban said that the manufacturing sector was making an increasing contribution to the country's GDP, rising from 8 per cent in 1998 to 19 per cent in 2005. Petrochemical and its downstream industries; basic metal and its downstream industries; food processing; chemicals and industries such as paper and glass, were the maim sectors.

Kalban also emphasised that the UAE is highly rated as a place to do business by the global business community, citing several surveys carried out by the World Bank and IMF. He said the UAE was ranked 16th in the world and the 1st in the GCC in terms of macroeconomic stability, supportive public institutions, technological readiness, cost and access to finance.

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