Jafza facilitates over 20% of Dubai’s food and beverage trade value

The free zone is enhancing the local agrifood sector’s development in line with the country’s National Food Security Strategy 2051


A Staff Reporter

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Jafza has always been a significant contributor to the UAE’s food sector and plays a vital role in supporting its long-term objectives. — Supplied photo
Jafza has always been a significant contributor to the UAE’s food sector and plays a vital role in supporting its long-term objectives. — Supplied photo

Published: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 9:04 PM

While conflict, natural disasters and factory closures have severely impacted the supply of global food products, DP World maintains a robust food supply chain in the Middle East and beyond, through state-of-the-art infrastructure and unmatched digital trade solutions.

Abdulla Al Hashmi, chief operations officer for Parks and Zones at DP World UAE, explains the key role the company plays in securing the food supply chain.

Al Hashmi said that the National Food Security Strategy 2051, launched in 2018, played a massive role in supporting the country’s progress towards ranking first in the Food Security Index.

“As a result, in 2022, the nation ranked 23rd worldwide and 1st in the Arab world for food safety and quality. To further support the national agenda, companies in the UAE need to capitalise on advanced technologies to ensure a sustainable food supply, increase local food production, and diversify sources of food imports,” he said.

Supporting the food security strategies

DP World operates four economic zones in the UAE and supports various other development areas. Two key contributors to the food sectors in the UAE are Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), our flagship free zone adjacent to Jebel Ali Port, and National Industries Park (NIP), an industrial zone in the local market.

“Jafza has always been a significant contributor to the UAE’s food sector and plays a vital role in supporting its long-term objectives; the free zone is home to over 600 food and agri-commodity companies from 68 countries,” Al Hashmi said.

“Our strategic location and world-class logistics infrastructure provide access to the GCC markets, which rely on imports to meet 85 per cent of their F&B requirements, and global access to the fast-growing F&B markets in Mena, South Asia, and Africa. Our role as a regional logistics hub is to ensure availability and access to F&B resources for the entire region,” he said.

NIP comprises 21 km2 of industrial development land in the local market. It sits only four kilometres from Jebel Ali Port, and benefits from direct road access to Dubai’s main international airports.

Al Hashmi said demand for food processing and distribution has been extremely high at NIP. “Its location and local zone status make it an ideal destination for companies focusing on processing and distribution within the UAE and GCC,” he said.

Major food distribution, processing, and packaging companies such as Carrefour, Hunter Foods, Al Maya, and Nesto have established large-scale operations in NIP. Technology-focused F&B companies such as Kitopi, the multi-brand smart kitchen operator, are also present.

“We have significant plans for the F&B sector’s development within NIP, and expect to make some important announcements soon,” Al Hashmi added.

In addition to supporting the food security strategy, Jafza and NIP’s F&B clusters contribute to national initiatives such as ‘Make it in the Emirates’ and ‘Operation 300bn’, increasing self-sufficiency through sustainable domestic food production supported by modern technologies.

“Since our earliest years, we have developed food-grade facilities to house processing, storage, and distribution activities. We have also attracted global food technology and sustainable production companies to enable agricultural irrigation, vertical farming, and energy efficiency,” Al Hashmi expressed.

Jebel Ali’s Agri Terminal

“In line with our aim to focus on facilitating global food trade, diversifying food import sources, and identifying alternative supply schemes, we launched Jebel Ali’s Agri Terminal. With the help of this new state-of-the-art facility, we look forward to enhancing the year-round availability of essential grains and pulses,” Al Hashmi explained.

The F&B Terminal will have a one million square metre quayside terminal of about 2 km to handle bulk shipments and dedicated space for 12 berths with a 14-16 m draft capable of handling large bulk carriers. It will be equipped to process cereals, meat and seafood products, bottled water, and dairy products, with specialised facilities for oil, tea, coffee, cacao, spices, and various other Agri commodities. The terminal will also have connectivity to the GCC via rail.

“We are working with existing and new partners to develop additional infrastructure and services that contribute to the UAE’s strategies and strengthen Jebel Ali’s position as a global gateway for trade in the F&B sector. The hub supports farm-to-shelf supply chain activities by enabling the development of new technologies for sustainable food production and deployment across the region,” he added.

“The steady growth experienced by the F&B industry serves as a catalyst for businesses to set up distribution and processing activities in Jafza. In 2021 alone, the free zone facilitated the trade of F&B goods worth AED 15.9 billion. Despite current economic headwinds, industry experts forecast a yearly increase of 6.8 per cent between 2022 and 2027. Therefore, Jafza offers an ecosystem that provides multiple growth opportunities for food, livestock, and agriculture businesses,” Al Hashmi said.

— business@khaleejtimes.com

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