What have been some of the major developments across your operations in Oman over the past year?
BRF Sadia has always been highly connected and committed to the Omani market and its consumer demands. We have a strong brand foundation based on our own product lines such as Sadia, Hilal, Perdix, and a dedicated distribution assembly for Lamb Weston, Siblou, Muscat Margarine, Al Khan Butter, and Dr. Oetker in our current portfolio. Oman has always been a key market in our scope, and currently we represent more than 45% of the total market share of frozen meats market in retail. We are adamant in meeting the highest level of quality standards as well as ensuring freshness, safety, and delivery of appropriate volumes from our base offices in Muscat, Salalah, Al Kamil, Nizwa, and Sohar. In the past year, we have been focusing on the two main pillars of our strategy: people and portfolio. On the people side, we are continuing our efforts to always improve the engagement of our employees and increase our Omanization. On the portfolio side, there has been a change in the mix of products and channels we have adopted to meet our customer demands. With e-commerce growing four-fold with the pandemic, we have been putting heavy focus behind this platform to ensure consumers can find the products they are looking for with the click of a button, through partnerships with the different platforms across Oman.
How are you incorporating new technologies into your production process, and how is that helping your efficiency?
BRF Sadia has been embracing technology within our supply chain from our farms to the consumers' tables and are actively working on more technology-based projects for the future. For example, we have been implementing an Industry 4.0 project to enhance our product traceability and allow us to connect all the different steps of the production process from the slaughtering to the final packaging. This allows us to further guarantee the safety and quality of our products inputs for our customers and consumers while optimizing the efficiency of our supply chain. We are as well installing sensors that are monitoring our production lines, which can detect any malfunction as soon as it happens and take the necessary action to correct it immediately. This increases our production efficiency at the factory level, hence lowering our costs of production. On the quality front, we are working on mobility within our factories to control all the non-conformity items as per our stringent quality specifications and reducing quality defects at the beginning of the production stage, hence cutting potential cost implications further down the supply chain and further guaranteeing the best quality for our consumers and customers.
How is smart farming impacting the long-term strategy of companies?
Smart farming is significantly impacting the long-term strategy of companies, mainly by being able to identify some specific issues in advance and addressing them upfront. One AI use case in the early stages of our business lifecycle, for example, is around accurate demand forecasting of market demand, which impacts input levels for raw materials to raise chickens. By leveraging AI to understand potential end volume in Oman, we can accurately forecast the amount of feed we will need to grow and then distribute to our network of farmers, and how many chickens this will yield. Another key challenge for smart farming, and thus opportunity for AI to be leveraged, is tightening forecasting tolerances and thus reducing costs. By being able to gather and analyze all the data across the supply chain that AI can provide and build robust predictive models, the sales and operations planning model will be able to give real-time visibility on any deviation from the plan and execute corrective actions as fast as possible, hence reducing costs and optimizing prices, resulting in higher, sustainable margins.