amino acids, which the body is incapable of producing by itself. Additionally, milk helps in meeting the body's requirement for vitamins. One glass of milk contributes about 44 per cent to our daily-recommended vitamins intake.
Unfortunately, humans tend to give up milk drinking, in favour of other exotic but detrimental options, as they grow older. So, to focus the world's attention on milk and its myriad benefits, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has started observing World Milk Day since 2001. This year, Tetra Pak Arabia, the Arabian market company of one the world's largest suppliers of processing and packaging systems for liquid dairy products, organised a day of festivity to observe World Milk Day at the Children's City in Dubai Creek Park. The event attracted schools, pupils and their families who participated in a range of activities including art competitions, slogan creating competitions, short plays around the theme of milk, kindergarten colouring competitions and a variety of games, all centred around the topic of healthy and nutritious milk.
The Dubai event was part of Tetra Pak's ongoing drive to raise awareness about the health benefits of packaged milk products in the region. Following the Dubai event on June 1, the company is organised a second event, which was held in Jeddah on June 28. Jesus Ortega, Dairy Category Manager of Tetra Pak Arabia was in the city to attend the festivities. City Times spoke to Ortega, who has been with Tetra Pak for about nine years.
What was your purpose behind observing World Milk Day?
World Milk Day gives Tetra Pak a great opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of drinking milk amongst the young and old and the protection that our packages provide to milk. In line with our motto, 'Protects What's Good,' we believe that health consciousness should be inculcated from a young age. So, we organised the event for the benefit of society, to encourage people to keep on drinking milk protected in Tetra Pak cartons, because of the convenience the package delivers. And it was especially for those who don't drink milk, to encourage them to reconsider the option of drinking milk. Milk is one of the healthiest of drinks one can have and sometimes it's cheaper than packed water or other products.
What is the overall role of Tetra Pak in the Middle East ?
We're a packaging company producing carton packages for different liquid foods, juices, long life milk, fragrant milk, labans etc. Our role here is to increase availability of liquid dairy products, beverages etc in the region. Tetra Pak is present in more than 165 countries globally. We've 4 factories around the world, including one in Jeddah, which produces the bulk of packaging for the region. We export to North Africa, Pakistan, even India and Europe as well. We're a global company with regional operations and we act locally.
In what way does your packaging protect milk and other products?
Our packaging isolates the product inside from the environment. For example, when milk is packaged inside a Tetra Pak carton, we do it in a protective environment. We boil the milk, cool it and pack it in a 100 per cent sterile setting. And the product inside the package is not exposed to outside factors like light, air, oxygen, thus preventing growth of bacteria. The package is made out of paper bowl and it has an aluminum foil, which acts as a barrier against air and light. So, in our method the nutritional value and quality of the product never changes. We don't add preservatives to make the product last longer. In fact, our technology helps us to extend the shelf life of the product and make it last longer. It also helps you to store more milk and to have it available anytime, anywhere. We've recently developed a new packaging system called Tetra Recart, a carton package that's a replacement for cans. So everything that can be canned can be packaged in Tetra Recart, vegetables, tuna etc. It has a zipper system so even a small kid can open it. Products can be kept in Tetra Recart up to 2 years.
How has the consumption of milk been in the Middle East region?
Consumption of liquid dairy products, milk, pasteurised milk, powdered milk, laban etc has been growing in recent years. For instance, in the region Qatar has the highest per capita consumption of milk per person at 100 per cent. UAE comes second with 85 per cent, then Kuwait 60 per cent, Oman 40 per cent and Yemen 15 per cent. So we see that the developed countries have increased the consumption of liquid dairy products than less developed nations like Yemen. The ratio of growth of consumption of liquid dairy product is 5 per cent per year. Product availability is the key driver followed by income.
What do you think are the reasons for this growth?
The growth of supermarkets is the main reason. Then lifestyles are changing; people are more health conscious nowadays, plus development of the industry, new systems, new products, better distribution networks and the overall economic growth of the region.
What other roles Tetra Pak has assumed as a company?We've made it our mission to remind people about the goodness of drinking milk to protect themselves against osteoporosis. Studies show that globally 2 women out of 5 and 1 man out of 5 have osteoporosis. Our studies show that people stop drinking milk at the age of 12, and start all over again sometimes in their mid-30s, which is a very important age to protect ourselves against osteoporosis. And as we know, lack of calcium is the main reason for osteoporosis and calcium is the main component of milk. So it's the Corporate Social Responsibility of our company to promote the benefits of the products that we pack, for healthier life for consumers. In this regard, Tetra Pak is the global partner of the International Osteoporosis Foundation in helping to spread this message worldwide. We're committed to promoting awareness of long life milk. And it's not just a one-off thing; it's an ongoing initiative.
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