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Mon 1 Jan 2007 04:44 PM

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Watania targets organic growth

Watania, a Saudi Arabian agricultural company that produces organic fruit and vegetables is keen to expand its market within the Middle East by exhibiting at the recent Middle East Organic and Natural Products exhibition

Watania, a Saudi Arabian agricultural company that produces organic fruit and vegetables is keen to expand its market within the Middle East by exhibiting at the recent Middle East Organic and Natural Products exhibition.

The company, which produces 3,000 tonnes of fruit and 1,500 tonnes of dates a year, as well as vegetables and meat, was hoping to find distributors for the Gulf at the exhibition. "The local market in the Middle East is good," Shafiq Abdulaziz, total quality manager, Watania, told
Retail News Middle East

.

"At the event we are looking for an introduction in Dubai especially...looking for distributor and retailers. We also want to advertise our Watania brand in this area," he said. Some of Watania's produce is already available in the Gulf, and its products are sold in Dubai's two Organic Foods & Café outlets, among other shops.

Watania has three grain, fruit and vegetable farms in Saudi Arabia; one in the Aljouf area, another near Riyadh, and another in the south of the country. It also has a sheep farm in Aljouf.

"We produce about 3,000 tonnes of fruits a year - peaches, nectarines, apples, grapes, and pears," Abdulaziz said. "We also have greenhouses and open vegetables where onions, ochre and other seasonal vegetables are grown."

Despite the scale of Watania's operations, Abdulaziz said that growth in the organic sector is sluggish.

"The market is growing but it is very slow," he explained. "We have actually found the market slow to respond to the organic movement."

A further challenge is that organic production is more difficult to control than intensive farming, according to Abdulaziz, and this can also make produce more difficult to market.

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