The firm will grow fruit and vegetables with “off-soil technologies” as well as through more traditional methods. Del Monte did not disclose what crops it intended to focus on in Saudi Arabia or Jordan.
Controlling the production
“We already have a farm in the UAE and Turkey and will soon be owning farms as well in Jordan and [the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia]. Reinforcing further our vertically integrated model is allowing us to control the quality every step of the process and guarantee we pick the freshest for our consumers,” said Del Monte MENA vice president Mohammed Abbas.
Jordan is well-known for its farming operations, and is one of the Middle East’s main producers of fruit and vegetables – although the war in Syria has caused problems for produce exporters. Saudi Arabia, in contrast, does have some farming operations, but is increasingly moving away from water-intensive agricultural activities – although this is mostly for major crops such as wheat.
Del Monte opened its 20-hectare UAE farm in Ras Al Khaima in 2013, using it to grow lettuce, melons, watermelons, strawberries and broccoli. Its current facilities in Jordan include a poultry operation, which rears, slaughters and processes the birds for local consumption.
New launches planned
The company is also planning to launch a new range of services and product categories, targeted at both consumers and trade customers, at February’s Gulfood exhibition. In a statement the company said its aim was to help consumers reach their recommended consumption of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and was seeing a growing trend towards health-consciousness in the Middle East.
Last year in Saudi Arabia Del Monte launched a range of healthy food products designed for the retail market, including wraps and muffins, as well as its more traditional cut fruit, smoothies and juices. In the UAE the firm launched Del Monte Fresh Garden, a home delivery service for fresh fruit and vegetables and other products, along with a new range of fruit smoothies.
The Middle East is one of Del Monte’s fastest-growing global markets, with regional revenues up 5.5% to US$140m for the third quarter of 2015, the latest financial data available. The region made up 15% of Del Monte’s total sales.