If you follow me on twitter, you might remember the Fill A Blue Belly project which I helped out with during Iftar this year at Regent International School. Barakat, a local Dubai company agreed to help with the event and sponsored the provision of fresh fruit salad and juices for the labourers for two evenings which as you can imagine made the a lot of labourers very happy.
Intrigued by the company, GeordieArmani and I arranged to visit the Barakat factory in Jebel Ali to see what happens and how fresh fruit is transformed into the lovely fresh fruit juices and fruit salads which are on display in supermarkets and also are provided to a large number of restaurants, airlines and events here in Dubai and further afield.
On arrival we were served a chilled glass of fruit juice – watermelon for me and pomegranate for GeordieArmani before we slipped into padded jackets, hairnets and foot covers (most attractive!) and started our tour of the factory.
Starting in the goods in area you get to appreciate the scale of the operation here. The factory started in 2002 with just fifteen staff and now employs almost 400 staff and operates 24/7 with the production line being in operation 16 hours a day. All of this to ensure that the freshest juices and fruit is despatched to a supermarket or hotel near to you in the twice daily deliveries. The first one starting at 4 am so that fresh juice is delivered to the major supermarkets by 6 am.
The first thing that hits you as you enter the goods in area is the smell of fresh oranges – that and the fact that the chilled area process 30 tonnes of oranges a day, makes you appreciate just how much fresh juice the Barakat team produce.
Throughout our tour we saw how different juices are made – from the biggest seller, orange juice through to some more unusual juices – including carrot juice, watermelon, strawberry, avocado etc. The vast majority of juices are just juice squeezed directly from the fresh fruit, with only a few of them having extra sugar added to enhance the taste. The carrot juice tasted fresh and light and I will certainly be adding that to my grocery list. We were able to sample watermelon and carrot juice straight from the vat you really can’t get any fresher than that.
We also marveled at how skilled the staff are in terms of fruit preparation. Orange segments were produced effortlessly by one member of staff whilst others were removing the skin from watermelons and melons so efficiently and effortlessly they made it look easy. Apparently in these areas, they are able to trim the fruit more effectively with less waste than machine trimmed fruit and this is testament to the Barakat on-job training which is provided to them.
Few areas of the factory are fully automated, the majority are labour intensive productions where the staff take a very hands on approach, in the pomegranate section we saw three people dedicated to washing, cutting and tapping out the pomegranate seeds before they are processed into juice, the juice is then hand bottled.
As you walk around the factory, its apparent that Barakat are passionate about what they do and the juices they provide. If a particularly tasty fruit isn’t in season or available then it can’t be produced and sold – this might seem frustrating as a consumer, but with a maximum shelf life of 3 days and a reputation for consistently fresh tasting juices – the Barakat team have they won’t compromise on quality or the taste of the product.
Eighty percent of Barakat’s juices are sold directly to other businesses and hotels, with the remaining twenty percent making it onto the shelves of our supermarkets.
One of the things I’ve noticed when doing foodie tours is that often the owners and workers of the business take for-granted the things that they do that make them special and separate them from the rest because, it’s “just the way they do things”. The Barakat team are no exception, they are passionate about producing fresh quality juices using great fresh ingredients. There are no concentrates in this factory, just fresh fruit, juice extracting machines and a whole bunch of people passionate about making sure we have great tasting fresh juice.
Our next visit will be to the Barakat vegetable processing factory to continue to gain a better understanding of the Barakat team, their ethos and production methods and their passion for producing all things fresh.
You can also visit their shop which is located on the in Villa 516, Beach Road, After Jumeirah Beach Park and Near Sun Set Mall. Tel : 800 Barakat (2272528) for delivery.
You can read GeordieArmani’s review of our trip here.