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Almarai's 'world of milk' in spotlight

Riyadh, September 16, 2012

National Geographic Abu Dhabi will be taking viewers on an unprecedented journey into the world of milk production at Saudi Almarai, one of the world’s largest vertically-integrated dairy companies, in its programme ‘Megafactories’ tomorrow (September 17).

The entire cycle of milk production - starting from what your milk goes through before it ends up in your coffee - will be shown in the ‘Megafactories: Almarai’ programme which makes its global premiere on Monday at 10pm (Saudi time), said a statement from National Geographic Abu Dhabi.

Almarai (meaning pastures in English) began its journey in 1977 with just 300 cows. Today, the company boasts of a herd of 135,000 Holstein cows, which are housed in six superfarms located outside of Riyadh.

These cows live a pampered life with round-the-clock veterinary care. Their keepers have even gone so far as to invent an ingenious misting solution to keep the herd cool in the desert.

On a daily basis, the herd produces around 2.5 million litres of milk – that’s enough to fill around 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Each cow produces an average of 13,000 litres of milk in a year, which is almost double the European average.

The milking process takes place four times a day. Up to 300 cows can be milked at once, and the entire process takes six hours. When it’s finished, the fresh milk is delivered directly to Almarai’s factories – all 268,000 square metres of them - for processing.

Roughly two thirds of the milk is separated off to be made into cheeses and yoghurts, while the remainder is bottled.

All of the raw milk is homogenized – mixed together – through a network of pipes, sensors and temperatures gauges that ensures its quality and consistency. It’s then pasteurized to kill off harmful bacteria, and to make it last longer.

Alongside the milk processing, Almarai also produces its own bottles, both for dairy and juice products. An intricate series of machines mould, shape, cut and perfect the bottles, and any that don’t make the grade are returned for recycling. Those that are fit for use are sent off through the factory to be labelled, filled with milk, and then capped.

Once the bottles are cleaned up and ready to go, they’re carried to the massive, 13,000 sq m cold storage facility, which can hold up to 235,000 crates. Each crate holds nine milk containers.

According to Almarai, speed is vital in the next stage of production: the shipping.

Sophisticated techniques are used to co-ordinate this mammoth task, which sees a fleet of 2,925 vans carry milk products around the Middle East, covering more than 193 million km a year – that’s enough to circle the world 4,800 times, it added.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Saudi | Almarai | National Geographic Abu Dhabi | Megafactories |

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