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Designing the future of ice cream in the Palestinian territories

Food Security

A PUM mission in 2012 gave the Al-Arz Ice Cream Company in the Palestinian Territories the architectural plans they needed for growth. Today, they can produce up to 8 million litres of ice cream a month and have a 50% share of the local market.      

With raw materials, production and final products spread out over three locations in Nablas, Al-Arz knew they needed to build a new factory in order to improve the production process and realize growth. They had already bought the land, but they weren’t happy with the building plans on offer. There seemed to be a lack of relevant expertise locally, so Plant Manager Saed Anabtawi applied to PUM. ‘We needed someone with particular architectural skills in the field of dairy. The PUM expert looked at our business, the company figures, asked us what we had, what we wanted and what we needed in both the short and long term. He based his advice on our situation and our goals.’ Two weeks later, the plans had been made, and now, five years on, the Al-Arz Ice Cream Company has clearly benefitted from the design.

Wider range of products

‘The new factory has had a major effect on four areas of business,’ says Saed. ‘First, the impact on the products. Our capacity is now three times higher than it was and we can produce a wider range of products. We have about 50 to 55% of the local market despite strong competitors. And we’re exporting more, including Jordan, Oman, Kuwait and Mauritius.’ The second impact has been on quality. Al-Arz was the first ice cream and dairy producer in Palestine to acquire HACCP certification and they are now working on acquiring ISO 22000 certification.

‘Our production capacity is now three times higher than it was five years ago’

Awareness of safety

With the quality and layout of the work environment improved, the third impact has been on employees. They are clearly benefitting from a more organised work space and increased awareness of safety and emergency procedures within the company, making for a more satisfying work space. And this leads on to the fourth impact, namely on the environment. Saed: ‘Because of the better layout and structure, there is less waste on the production lines, and the factory itself is far better insulated. Although we’re now producing almost twice as much as we were five years ago, there’s been no increase in our LPG consumption, one of our main energy sources. We have plans to install solar panels for generating steam so as to replace our need for LPG.’

Hygiene and safety levels

Although the focus of the factory design five years ago was on creating more production facilities, the PUM expert’s design also took other needs into consideration. ‘One of our problems in the past was tours of the company. We’d often have school groups coming to look round the factory, but at the old location they were walking in and out of the production process. Now, they follow the production line but on a separate, raised path behind glass. That way we maintain our hygiene and safety levels, and the students [LT1] don’t have the hassle of going through hygiene procedures and wearing protective clothing. The PUM advice really took every detail of our business into consideration, and we very much appreciate the difference this made.’

Amjad Qasas, PUM Representative in Palestine is still in close contact with the Al-Arz Ice Cream Company
‘The impact of PUM expert intervention in this project is very tangible when you compare the old factory to their new state-of-the-art facilities. It’s proof that the key to success with such a project is in defining the problem clearly and getting the right expert on the mission. And that’s exactly the added value of PUM in the Palestinian market. PUM gives SMEs affordable access to international expertise that helps them develop their business.’
PUM expert Durk Wijnia advised Al-Arz in 2012: 'We had two weeks to make a plan and the site was actually on the narrow side for a new factory. Thanks to the intensive collaboration with Saed Anabtawi and his team, it was possible to get the job done. Together we came to the optimal layout for the new factory. It is fantastic to see that the plan of that time has proved so successful. '