Fri, 08/11/2019 - 16:36
Current Issue 34
Mazoon Dairy embodies technological innovation and economic diversification, positioned as a leading light for Oman’s Vision 2040
Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Matthew Selby
Oman has been highly dependent on its extensive oil reserves in recent years. And, to an extent, this is still the case, the hydrocarbon sector contributing 35.5 percent of GDP in 2018.
Yet a stark shift has begun to emerge since the latter part of the 20th century, emphasised by the Sultanate’s WTO admission, owed to the government’s emphasis on liberalising, privatising and modernising the country in numerous ways.
Indeed, it has been a gradual process – such a monumental transition wasn’t ever going to happen overnight. But the country is heading in the right direction and will continue to pursue a similar roadmap of achieving development while upholding the country’s rich cultures and histories.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, economic diversification is a critical part of this vision.
Forming one of Vision 2040’s 13 priority areas, widespread progress has already been made, the country’s manufacturing, tourism, logistics, mining and agriculture industries all having taken major strides.
And in the case of the latter, Mazoon Dairy stands as a perfect example.
“Mazoon Dairy is a first of its kind project in Oman, both in terms of size and scale,” explains Dr Arjun Subramanian, the organisation’s CEO.
“The company, set up using OMR100 million ($260 million) provided by the Oman Food Investments Holding Company and other investment funds, has a single-minded goal of supporting the Sultanate’s mission to build a national food security programme.
“We aim to do this by bringing honest and quality dairy and juice products to the people of Oman, and today are close to fulfilling this vision as our technologically advanced, fully-integrated fairy company based in As’Sunainah takes shape.”
With such astronomical sums invested, it may come as no surprise that Mazoon Dairy’s esteemed site has become one of the most technologically advanced in the region.
The dairy farm houses not only the cowherd (currently 3,500 strong), but equally a 50,000-square-metre fully-integrated centralised processing plant and dairy facility, equipped with a state-of-the-art automated milking parlour and chilling and storage facilities.
“We’ve implemented stringent quality controls which require zero human intervention,” Subramanian adds.
“Meanwhile, an integrated bottle production unit will also produce the required packaging materials in-house to ensure that the quality of our produce is monitored and maintained from start to finish.”
In every sense, Mazoon Dairy is set to completely transform Oman’s dairy industry.
Right now, roughly 30 percent of dairy products consumed in Oman are locally produced. Yet this has the potential to increase these proportions drastically during the course of the next decade, and Mazoon Dairy has ambitions plans to contribute to this bold target.
“By 2028, we’re hoping to drive national self-sufficiency up to 86 percent,” the CEO states, “expanding the size of our cowherd to 25,000 in the process.
“We are honest, open, friendly and passionate about the future of this country. We are more than just a new consumer brand on the shelves. Our goal is to position Oman as a regional hub for high quality food products.”
Subramanian is not blind to the sheer size of the job that the firm has tasked itself with.
However, he remains entirely confident in the company’s ability to meet its targets, pointing to the close working relationships that it has formulated with key strategic partners and vendors as a key reason for this.
Here, the Chief Exec references a contract signed with global packaging specialist Tetra Pak that will ensure the supply and installation of all its dairy processing equipment, as well as its work with Saudi Arabia’s ARTAT – an organisation facilitating the provision of livestock feed mixing equipment.
“The former agreement includes milk reception and storages, tanks, homogenisation and pasteurisation machines, as well as refrigeration and other utility requirements,” he explains. “Meanwhile, our work with ARTAT will ensure we receive high-quality feed that improves and increases the performance of livestock and production efficiency.”
Standing as two of the firm’s flagship partnerships with international players, Mazoon equally places great emphasis on involving the broader Omani business community, also considering local firms as being of huge importance to its success.
“We want to be a catalyst for generating business growth and prosperity for hundreds of Omani businesses and suppliers and create partnership opportunities for Omani companies,” Subramanian affirms.
In the way of its employment practices, a similar approach is taken. Here, the firm opts to maintain diversity across its workforce by balancing its commitment to improving the future of the region with the international expertise required to get off to a flying start.
Subramanian continues: “Currently, roughly half of all our 400 staff are Omani, and we plan to grow this in the coming months.
“We believe it is our responsibility to create attractive employment opportunities for talented Omanis in the dairy sector and empower them to lead the country towards self-sufficiency.”
This belief in local business and people is also translated into Mazoon’s community-centred efforts, the organisation giving back to Omani society in a number of other ways.
Initiatives under this remit include a strategic partnership with Sultan Qaboos University in which the firm uses facilities for the research and development of new products while engaging with staff and students, providing something of a win-win relationship.
“We are engaged in encouraging an active lifestyle as well,” Subramanian reveals, “helping people of all ages, especially school children, to maintain their health by adding fresh dairy to their daily diets.
“Waste to energy bio-gas systems and processing technologies that conserve water usage are also an area of interest for us at the moment, helping to reduce our carbon footprint and enhance our practices in the way of sustainability.”
Encompassing everything from technological excellence to grassroots efforts, Mazoon Dairy is poised to not only embrace but in many ways facilitate the vast changes that the country will experience in the coming years.
Having just completed its grand entry into the market, Subramanian’s own excitement speaks volumes of the monumental role that the business will begin to play as its operations ramp up moving forward.
“We’re optimistic that our locally-produced products will comparable to the best in the world,” he states.
“With the momentum provided for national food security, Oman could soon find itself as a production and technology hub for quality food systems.”