H.H. Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah bin Turki bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud along with global private investor V Raman Kumar have engaged in a joint venture with India’s innovative rice producer, LEAF India (Lakshmi Energy and Foods Ltd), to create the MENA region’s largest hub for rice storage and distribution.
The JV, Innovo Specialty Foods JLT, created by an investment of AED 100 million, aims to set up a storage, processing, polishing and packaging facility with a capacity of over 100,000 tonnes of basmati rice during 2014. The ambitious plans will be delivered through Pan Gulf Foods and Industries FZ CO from the company’s Jebel Ali warehouse, which has been set in joint ownership, by H.H. Prince Mishaal, Mr V. Raman Kumar and LEAF India.
Innovo will market and distribute basmati rice processed and packed by Pan Gulf Food and Industries exclusively across the Middle East and North Africa. Innovo aims to sell 80 per cent of its products through large trade channel partners/ importers/ distributors. The balance will be distributed to wholesale/retail outlets within the GCC on a cash and carry basis from its JAFZA warehouse.
The shared vision of making Dubai a regional basmati rice hub has inspired H.H. Prince Mishaal, V. Raman Kumar and LEAF India’s B.S.Uppal to create a conglomerate for storing, processing, packaging and distributing basmati rice in the Middle East region.
V. Raman Kumar commented: “Food security is clearly an immediate priority for the UAE and wider Middle East. The region is entering a new period of economic growth underpinned by a burgeoning population with a high dependence on imported food.
“This venture promises to add great value to strategies being discussed between Government and policy-makers at the World Food Security Summit this week. Our concept idea of creating this rice hub will aim to lend to and deliver food security objectives in the UAE. “
Currently, 20% of all UAE imports comprise of food items and 90% of food is imported but there are only 3 months of basic food items stored, so food security cover is not fit for purpose for the rapidly growing economy.
V Raman Kumar adds: “You would not think of Gulf states as a place where access to food was difficult as they have some of the highest GDPs in the world and they can easily meet their food needs but the Gulf’s geographical location and lack of water and arable land makes it difficult to produce an abundance of food. Importing up to 90 per cent of their food makes them extremely vulnerable
“The 100,000 tonnes of basmati rice capacity that we will create in Jebel Ali will be a giant step for this region to strengthen its food security strategy. We look to take this strategy to Saudi Arabia as well in the near future. We believe that execution of a core food security strategy is essential to provide a sustainable growth platform.”
The fine, long grained, fragrant basmati rice is the leading imported food item into the Middle East. 70 per cent of world’s supply of basmati rice comes from India alone. The ever increasing demand for basmati rice has been primarily driven by Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Iraq and GCC countries accounting for over 4 million tons of basmati rice consumption every year.