First caviar factory in Middle East

April 11, 2011 12:16

 "Caviar from the desert":

140 tons of sturgeon reach the world's largest aquaculture plant in Abu Dhabi

  • Technology from the German aquaculture specialist United Food Technologies AG
  • Complex logistics by sea and air freight
  • The first caviar starting from 2011

"Fish from the desert": This aquaculture project sets special standards in many respects. Not just the fact that the world's largest recirculatory plant for sturgeon and the production of premium caviar has come up in Abu Dhabi, the project requires exceptional logistical effort, reports with reference to United Food Technologies.

Starting these days, a total of 140 tons of live fish will be transported from Europe to the capital of the United Arab Emirates by sea and air using internally developed, complex processes. The investor, the Arabian Bin Salem group, has appointed United Food Technologies AG (UFT AG, Weinheim / Germany), who specializes in the planning and design of aquaculture projects, for the construction of the world's largest recirculatory plant for sturgeon.

A modern sustainable fish farm has now come up on the approximately 61,000 square meters of land, which is now completely populated by sturgeons. In order to avoid having to wait for a full growth period of about 4 to 4.5 years, older and therefore larger fish are transported alive. Thus the first premium caviar is expected to be produced by the end of 2011.

The final stage of the plant is designed for a capacity of 32 tons of premium quality caviar per year and an annual production of 490 tons of sturgeon - dimensions which were previously unknown in the production of premium caviar from aquaculture. United Food Technologies AG, which has extensive knowledge in planning and design of modern aquaculture plants, has executed the project based on its patented and proven recirculatory technology.  The so-called "Recirculating Aquaculture Systems" (RAS) is considered by many experts as the most advanced aquaculture technology, both from the economical and environmental perspective. UFT AG has already successfully implemented this technology in several plants in Germany and abroad.

 According to Ahmad Bin Salem, CEO of Bin Salem Holding, this major project represents the first plant of its kind in the Middle East and the largest sturgeon plant worldwide. In the face of the sharp decline in natural sturgeon populations and the ever-growing demand for real caviar, which exceeds the supply by far, the Bin Salem group offers excellent marketing opportunities: Not globally, but the market potential is large and increasing even in the U.A.E itself given the large number of 5-star hotels, star restaurants and cruise ships that drop anchor here.

But before the first „made in Abu Dhabi" caviar can be produced, about 130,000 sturgeons have to cover a journey of thousands of kilometres with air and sea freight. The bigger sturgeons were shipped by the Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad. Each of these sturgeons was transported in a specially designed container in a temperature controlled environment which was always between 10 and 15 degrees centigrade. At each stage of the process the pallets were loaded and unloaded within minutes. Etihad utilised one of its new A330-200 freighter aircraft, which provides state-of-the-art temperature control technology, to transport the endangered species.

The sturgeons transported at sea were brought from Germany by road to a European sea harbour in specially prepared transport containers, which guarantee stable conditions in terms of water quality and temperature. The containers are shipped by sea from Europe to Jebel Ali in the UAE. In the period starting from March to mid-year, a consignment is planned every week until the replacement stock is completed successfully.

The consignment is monitored by veterinarians at all stages and also checked by the port authorities. In addition, CITES monitors the consignment as well. In collaboration with the Etihad airline, the little creatures (so-called fingerlings) and some large, caviar-bearing sturgeon will also be transported by air freight in special plastic containers.

Recirculation system - Aquaculture - Technology of the future

Oceans do not have the capacity to produce more - many species of fish are already considered to be "overfished" and as a fishing resource their existence is threatened - and at the same time the demand for the egg bearing fish is increasingly growing: To overcome this food dilemma many experts feel that aquaculture is the only choice available. The demand for fish products by an increasingly growing world population cannot be met only by the aged old method of salt water fishing any more.

Closed recirculation system (RAS) is viewed by many experts not only revolutionary but also the "via regia" (ideal method) of aquaculture. Because it is a modern and environmentally friendly technology that brings with it a number of advantages:

  • No external side-effects (weather, air pollution, diseases) due to the production process.
  • Optimal growth conditions which can be regulated through living conditions (adequate food supply, water temperature, water quality, oxygen content, stress factors).
  • Water is continuously cleaned by a mechanical and biological filtration system via an integrated circuit.
  • Consistent, well planned, and non-seasonal production quantities.
  • The continuous supply of young fish is ensured by the natural reproduction of the offspring in a special breeding station (Nursery).
  • Consistent high quality in terms of taste, freshness and size of fish is guaranteed.
  • Water for the plant could be self supplied by wells; hence the location of the plant can be selected freely, independent of natural surface water supplies.

Facts & figures about the aquaculture facility in Abu Dhabi

Project Spinner:                     Bin Salem Holding

Investor:                     Bin Salem GTE & limited number of private investors

Technology partner:  United Food Technologies AG

Marketing Unit:                     S.M.U. Abu Dhabi (Maison du Caviar of the Emirates - under formation)

No. of Employees:                  a total of 60

Built-up Area:                        Approx. 50,000 square meters

No of tanks:                64 large tanks + 8 tanks for the nursery + 32 storage tanks

Total water area:                  Approx. 18,000 square meters

Production of fish:                 Approx. 465 tons/ per Year

Production of caviar: Approx. 32 tons/ per Year

Initial stock of fish:    Approx. 140 tons

Fish in the plant:                    Approx. 1,000 tons at full swing

No. of fish in the plant:          Approx. 260,000 at full swing

Profile of UFT AG: Extensive expertise under one roof

The core business of United Food Technologies AG is the construction of modern, highly profitable and environment friendly aquaculture facilities. Different species of fish can be produced with the help of the patented fish farms of United Food Technologies AG.

The establishments can be set up in nearly any and every location worldwide and offer independence from the conventional fish buying market. The quality of the fish remains the same constantly because the living conditions (water temperature, oxygen content, stress factors) can be regulated and with it optimum growth conditions can be created.

Many years of experience combined with research and development gives UFT significant technological advantage in the construction and operation of recirculation systems and a unique feature in the production of sturgeon and caviar.

 A specific feature of our aquaculture technology is the highly efficient and ecologically friendly recirculation system. The motto here is - Maximum result through minimum energy and fresh water application. The internal biological treatment processes serve in the protection of the water quality. There is no external air, odour or water emission, but only the cleanest biologically as well as mechanically processed water is released.

The modern and at the same time practiced technology is based on separate water cycles for every tank. An easy and independent control of every tank is thereby possible. At the same time there is no danger of any type of sickness spreading in the area surrounding the establishment.

A special advantage for investors and investment managers: In collaboration with strategic partners, the company offers in addition to the expert system technology also operational and marketing expertise all under one roof. This represents a unique combination for the aquaculture market from which the relevant authorities can benefit.

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