FAHAD ALNANIH

Saudi Arabia 2021 | INDUSTRY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Fahad Alnanih, General Manager of Pure Polymers, on target markets, innovative trends, and international recognition.

Who is your target market and what opportunities have you identified in the Saudi market?

We manufacture raw materials for plastic, so all our customers are plastic factories and convertors. The idea behind the creation of Pure Polymers was to get together a large number of small manufacturers of plastic products such as cups, trays, and pipes etc. We only target the B2B market. In Saudi Arabia, there are around 800 plastics factories, and 15 of them represent more than 85% of the market. The rest of the factories fight for the remaining 15% market share. The majority of these small factories do not have access to good raw materials or technologies. Pure Polymers provides raw materials, technologies, and technical supporter to these factories. We try to form as many partnerships and agreements with suppliers, institutes, and universities as possible to further develop our products. Our main supplier is Sabic but we also have some suppliers in India and Europe for additives and chemicals.

What innovative trends is Pure Polymers introducing in the Saudi market?

We are working with the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) on biodegradable plastic additives. We are also finding ways to develop additives to make the plastic thinner, smaller, and lighter. By doing so, we will be able to reduce consumption. Other than that, we are working on how to use plastic to support agriculture. We have partnered with a Japanese company to develop a greenhouse that uses UV protection and additives to make vegetables grow better.

Which of your products enjoy high demand in the market?

While regular commodities enjoy the highest demand, specialized products, such as the additives master batch and the special impact color master batch, are the most profitable. We were recently approved by Unilever to produce their personal care products using a special impact color that shines. Additives like antimicrobial master batch also enjoy good demand. They can be used in hospitals or to increase the life of products

What differentiates Pure Polymers from other plastic companies in the Kingdom?

We try to differentiate all of our products and improve cost efficiency. Moreover, we work with third parties such as Sabic on product development to further cut our costs. We are also integrating automated machines, in line with our strategy to always be on the lookout for innovative solutions. We work on innovation with the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) as well as Japanese and US institutes. Our pragmatic approach enables us to finish projects faster as compared to our competitors.

What is your assessment of the government's vision?

Before setting up Pure Polymers, I worked for multinational companies who used to face problems when organizing sustainability events. Fortunately, the process is now much easier. Also, there is a lot of support from the government. Our idea is to enhance the use of plastic products, make it more sustainable, and tailor is to the Saudi & Regional markets needs. At Pure Polymers, we support the fight against the bad consumption of single-use plastic, but we do not think it is practical to ban all kinds of plastic. We need to change the consuming behavior and spread awareness about sustainability.

What is your outlook for the year ahead, and what are your next steps in terms of international recognition?

The industrial sector in Saudi Arabia has undergone a lot of improvement. The government has set up a new ministry of industry to make the entire process easier and flexible. The environment for SMEs and foreign investors is improving on a regular basis. There is a lot of government support for SMEs and investors. Pure Polymers mainly exports to Africa, and we are also trying to export to Middle Eastern countries. Sometimes, in order to have better market access, its necessary to open offices in the region. In line with this, we have opened an office in Dubai and a distribution hub in Egypt & Ghana to cover wider markets in Middle East & Africa. The biggest advantage of having a distribution hub in Egypt is that the country has FTAs with the majority of Arab and African countries as well as Egypt consumption. Moving forward, Saudi Arabia should develop more agreements with African countries because it will make it easier for Saudi base manufacturers to export their products to Africa and for us in Pure Polymers to achieve our goal of exporting 70% of our production to Africa & Middle East.