Mar. 4, 2019

Salem Nasser Al Bortmany


Salem Nasser Al Bortmany

CEO, Areej Vegetable Oils and Derivatives SAOC (AVOD)

AVOD is striving to move away from labor intensive to process intensive in a bid to transform the business.


Salem Nasser Al Bortmany graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the UK and obtained his MBA there. He attended various management and leadership programs including senior executive programs at Harvard Business School. He joined AVOD as an executive engineer and subsequently took on various positions. He sits on numerous boards including Reem Batteries and Power Appliances, Oman Textile Mills, and Al Madina Logistics Company. He is Chairman of the Working Group Committee of Export Development Committee at Ithraa and a member of Oman Product Exhibition OPEX Committee.

Where are your primary export markets, and where would you like to move to regionally?

Primarily, our export market is within the Middle East, including the GCC and Africa, where logistics and transportation advantages for commodities such as our products are essential to compete and grow. Moreover, we take advantage of multinational companies to build our presence in more markets, creating and developing more products and getting into new areas. We are currently discussing with MNCs worldwide about the gap analysis, particularly in northern and eastern African markets, other Middle Eastern countries, and even Europe. With specific logistics advantages, cost of manufacturing, and import duties, AVOD might be able to penetrate, compete, and grow in these markets.

Where do you source most of your materials from?

We source from major distributors of crude edible oils around the world. The major distributors for palm oil and fraction of palm oils are Indonesia and Malaysia. For us, freight costs are competitive enough to allow us to import materials from there, process and add value here, and export and re-export to the MENA region. We bring in other products such as corn oil and sunflower oil from North and South America, which takes 45-60 days to reach Oman, though we have a great module of planning around. This gives us a cost-effective way of manufacturing in Oman. Economy of scales are crucial in commodity business; the more we produce, the lower the cost per unit, and the more we can compete in export markets. Furthermore, the more efficient we are and the better our value chain is, the more competitive we can be in export markets.

How do you respond to market demands, specifically in the area of healthier options for your products?

This is an ongoing process, and we respond to the needs of our customers through the value chain and identify that in all aspects. For example, at the time of development, the aspect of customers' needs and value obtained from the product are crucial. The second aspect is the health part, where because of the change in the nutritional awareness of end users, we have to be flexible enough to go in that direction without compromising in terms of cost, quality, or performance. All our products not only comply with local standards and specifications but also focus on the modern lifestyle and customers' needs and requirements, particularly when it comes to purity and lightness of the products, which add value as a healthier option for an end user.

What technologies are you using within your manufacturing processes to make them dynamic?

Our end-to-end systems allow us to add value in terms of system efficiencies, plans, and resources. In addition, the system allows us to plan exactly what products are required and what raw materials, packaging materials, and process to be sourced in a cost-effective way. We are proceeding with the fourth industrial revolution to bring in wireless detectors, where we can see the entire input that goes into products and productivity. Automation is key for success in this business, and that will increase our efficiency in the end. Information can help us predict future breakdowns of individual lines and give us the critical maintenance and preventive maintenance required for our operations. It provides added value to what we currently produce and adds efficiency to our operations. It gives us more information for the future as to how far we can plan ourselves. We have started to bring in such technology and implement it into our manufacturing units, moving from artificial intelligence to machine intelligence. We seek to automate the entire processes increasing efficiencies and outputs. This required a great deal of effort for us to predict the future and upgrade our systems and skills as well. We will be able to do it together, not only with technology but also with local Omani skills.