Bateel International has turned 25 years old, and during celebrations revealed that the firm is looking at expanding its production capacity.
The company cultivates its dates at date palm groves in Al Ghat, Saudi Arabia, with plans to buy further farms in Namibia to cater to growing demand. This is because the climate is similar, and the growing season follows that of Saudi Arabia, ensuring longer production times.
At the 25th anniversary event, held at the flagship Cafe Bateel on JBR The Walk, Dubai, Bateel Retail general manager Tina Memic said the farms in Saudi Arabia have more than 100,000 palm trees, where the produce is hand-picked with special gloves to ensure integrity of the product. The product is also organic, with no chemicals used in the growing process.
"Customers are the first people to lay their hands on the dates," she said.
Acknowledging that this labour-intensive process pushes the price up, Memic added: "We cannot cater to anyone else except the top line."
In a previous statement, Bateel International managing director Dr Ata Atmar said: "Bateel is an ancient Arabic word for ‘a young offshoot of a date palm’ and like our namesake, our company has grown tremendously over the years."
The brand was launched in 1989 when Bateel owner and founder Dr. Ziad Al Sudairi asked Atmar to help build Bateel by marketing dates like premium Swiss chocolates.
The first Bateel boutique opened in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and shortly after the product portfolio was expanded to include premium quality chocolates and fine foods.
Taking the brand a step further, Café Bateel was launched in Dubai in 2007. This year, the brand has 20 new boutique and café openings scheduled across the GCC region.
Jean-Luc Vila, general manager corporate manufacturing & development of Bateel, said that he comes up with recipes where he can use the dates as well, with Memic adding he creates new dishes every three months.
Vila said at the anniversary event: "We find different ways in which to use the dates in the confectionery or bakery section."