Innovation Drives Efficiency and Sustainability in the UAE Poultry Sector

May 16, 2024 | Agribusiness

With a predicted 158 K metric tons of egg consumption by 2028 and an anticipated poultry meat market valuation of $USD 1.31 bln by 2029, the UAE’s poultry sector is booming.

Driven by such opportunities, The United Arab Emirates (UAE) poultry sector is at the forefront of innovation within agriculture. This sector is key to both meeting the domestic demand for protein and setting a global benchmark in sustainable and efficient agricultural practices.

Importance of innovation in driving efficiency and sustainability

Innovation is pivotal in modernizing the UAE's poultry sector, enhancing productivity, and minimizing environmental impact.

Innovations range from genetic improvements and advanced feed formulations to sophisticated farming technologies and waste and water management. Such advances significantly contribute to the sector's capability to meet demand sustainably.

Innovative solutions sustaining the UAE poultry sector

The UAE's poultry sector transformation is driven by several trends. Here are the main factors driving change:

1. Increasing demand for protein

The UAE, like many regions worldwide, faces a rising demand for protein due to its growing population and increasing health consciousness among consumers. Although population growth in the UAE is slow and steady (averaging 0.82% annually since 2021), it remains vital to provide a reliable source of nutritional protein to protect health and prevent population diminution.

Chicken has a higher protein content by weight than beef (43g per 100g of cooked chicken breast compared to 26g per 100g of beef). It is a low-fat option and remains a more affordable protein choice for many families. Poultry, being a popular and efficient source of nutrition, is seeing escalated demand, which requires improved production efficiency.

2. Technological advances

Tech innovations are transforming the process of high-volume egg and poultry meat production. Here are a few of the most significant innovations of recent years:

  • automated feeding systems, to ensure animals are properly fed.
  • climate-controlled housing, to improve comfort and health.
  • bird health monitoring tools using IoT and AI, to protect against avian flu and other common ailments.

These innovations significantly boost production efficiency and product quality. At the same time, their use reassures wholesalers that their products maintain a high environmental hygiene standard. This is a reassurance they can pass on to their retail clients.

3. Sustainable practices

In recent years there has been a rising demand for organic and free-range products, especially eggs, in the UAE. Sustainability has become an important value for consumers.

Sustainability initiatives in the UAE poultry sector include reducing water and energy consumption, utilizing renewable energy sources, and implementing waste recycling systems to lower the environmental footprint.

4. Diversification and competition

Diversification in poultry products, such as the introduction of organic and free-range options, caters to evolving consumer preferences and opens new market opportunities, further driving economic sustainability.

In addition, the requirement for increased production has led to greater imports from countries including Brazil. With over half a million metric tons imported from Brazil to Middle Eastern states in the first quarter of 2024, the UAE’s domestic producers are having to find ways to innovate to remain competitive.

5. Tech optimizes animal welfare

Innovative technologies not only enhance operational efficiency but also improve animal welfare.

Advanced monitoring systems using IoT devices ensure optimal living conditions, prevent disease outbreaks, and maintain high welfare standards. Impressively, AI-led analytics can predict an avian flu outbreak from the sounds the birds make, one recent study shows.

Further innovations in feed composition and the development of poultry welfare robots help push the UAE to the forefront of animal husbandry in the poultry sector.

Poultry sectoral growth & economic benefits

The integration of innovative practices in the UAE's poultry sector serves to ensure economic growth, while improving food security, and maintaining a supply of high-quality poultry products both locally and internationally.

Biosecurity in poultry production

Maintaining high standards of biosecurity through innovative solutions is crucial to protecting poultry health and ensuring consumer safety. Avian flu claimed the lives of over 410 Mln birds in its 21st century outbreaks, and cost the industry between 25 Bln USD and 3 Bln USD.

Challenges to overcome

In the pursuit of innovation, several challenges need addressing:

Advanced Poultry Farming Equipment:

High initial costs and the need for technical expertise can be significant barriers.

Animal Health and Nutrition Solutions:

Developing and adopting new health and nutrition innovations require robust R&D support.

Smart Poultry Farming Management:

Integrating complex systems into existing infrastructures demands careful planning and skilled management.

Sustainable Poultry Farming Practices:

Balancing productivity with ecological and social sustainability continues to be a critical challenge.

Education and Research for Poultry Farming:

Continuous education, training, and research are essential to sustain innovation and adapt to evolving challenges.

Case studies and examples

Examples from leading UAE poultry farms demonstrate the successful integration of such innovations.

Farms implementing automated systems and AI for monitoring bird health and environmental conditions report higher productivity and reduced waste.

The Al Rawdah facility in Dubai is now using solar energy to power operations, significantly reducing carbon emissions. Meanwhile, Zucami Poultry Equipment has developed sustainable methods for poultry manure recycling, turning an environmental hazard into a sustainable organic fertiliser.

Innovation powers poultry production in UAE

The UAE's poultry sector exemplifies how embracing innovation can significantly enhance efficiency and sustainability.

The drive towards integrating advanced technologies, sustainable practices, and continuous research will ensure long-term sustainability and economic growth in the region.

Through collaborative efforts among government, industry, and research institutions, the UAE poultry sector is well-positioned to address ongoing challenges and lead the way in global agricultural practice.

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