The Al Rawabi brand is a familiar one to loyal customers in the UAE, who buy its milk, meat, bakery and juice products every day. But it’s possible not many know about the farm’s ambitious origins, or its incredible achievements over its more than 30 year history.
Opening in 1989 with a herd of 500 imported German cows, Al Rawabi’s aim was to produce milk that was local to its customers rather than imported, and to improve the nation’s health through natural produce without chemicals. They became Dubai’s first national dairy company, and within just a few years had begun a journey of innovation that runs through everything they do.
Their initial groundbreaking work was around product packaging. Realizing that half or one liter cardboard tubs of milk were too small for a family supply, Al Rawabi began supplying customers with two and three liter bottles as well as one gallon containers. They were also the first GCC dairy to produce pasteurized juice, cold pressing all natural ingredients.
With investment came expansion and a fully automated dairy plant, as well as a biogas plant to recycle waste and produce green energy. The farm also employed embryo transplants, enabling them to breed cows with better genetics which could produce more milk.
And all this while keeping animal welfare at the forefront of their daily practises. Cows have temperature controlled living environments with plenty of room, creches, water cooled walkways, and their own nutritionist, while AI monitors the animals’ activity.
But the farm’s greatest work by far has been in the area of health and nutrition. Realizing that 80% of people in the region were deficient in vitamin D – vital for health in later years – the farm worked with experts and the Ministry of Health to introduce it to their milk using plant-based methods. Not only do they work to supply vitamin D to customers, but also to create health-boosting food and drink that tackles obesity, diabetes and hypertension.
Alongside this great work is an educational element which sees children taking tours of the farm to learn more about nutrition and where their food comes from.
Now coming up to their 33rd birthday, Al Rawabi is the largest dairy farm in the UAE, with a herd of more than 17,000 cows, and 40 calves born each day on average. They generate enough milk to serve one million customers per day, who get their produce within 24 hours of its production. This is thanks to the processing plant being located mere meters from the farm itself, which also cuts down on unnecessary food miles.