Founded in 1979, in Tabuk in northwestern Saudi Arabia, Astra Farms Company forms part of Astra Food Company, one of the region’s largest agri-food companies. Astra Farms provides a one-stop shop for a wide product range, from citrus, grapes and stonefruit to quail, poultry, dairy, processed food and cut flowers. This array of products is sold domestically and exported across the Gulf, as well as to the Levant, Asia and Europe, to its customers in retail, wholesale and foodservice.
“Our main customers include retailers, wholesalers, supermarkets, hypermarkets, hotels and restaurants,” says Jamilah Sawaf, head of PR and communications manager. “We have a well maintained fleet that includes modern refrigerated trucks, making timely and insured deliveries to our customers.”
Astra Farms produces approximately 8,000 tonnes of grapes and 4,000 tonnes of stonefruit. Yellow and white peaches and nectarines are available from April to June, apricots from April to May and red and black plums from May to June. As for grapes, Astra Farms produces Early Sweet (weeks 21-22), Superior (weeks 23-27) and Thompson (weeks 28-31).
“We offer uniform bunches, with size and Brix meeting the requirements of our European and Asian supermarket and wholesale clients,” says Sawaf. “In addition, we offer Red Superior, Red Globe, Black Magic and Black Fantasy to regional markets. We bring the best of Tabuk, Saudi Arabia’s thriving garden, to the table of every Saudi family each day.”
The company’s grapes and stonefruit are GlobalGAP-certified, while the company is also certified ISO 22000 for food safety and is currently preparing for the GRASP audit to demonstrate its compliance with ethical standards.
“Astra Farms is committed to the highest levels of food safety and quality,” says Sawaf. “It operates under strict quality assurance and practices to ensure clients receive professional supply and service, guaranteeing all workers follow strict hygiene practices year-round and preserving good sanitation practices in packing areas to ensure a clean environment.”
Following Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 roadmap, Astra Farms is currently increasing its exports to foreign markets. “Our growth strategy is to introduce the new origin of Saudi Arabia to selected markets,” says Sawaf. “In previous years, we have already shipped significant volumes to East Asia, where our products were well received. Recently, US importers have also expressed an interest in our grapes since they are looking for new, exciting origins.”
A lack of water has made sustainable practices a necessity for Astra Farms. “We grow our grapes in the open field using modern drip irrigation techniques in order to minimise water usage,” says Sawaf. “Of course, sustainability is an important consideration. We also work with a rigid fertigation programme and integrated pest management system.”
The company’s close control over its products is furthered by the use of its own transportation. “Within Saudi Arabia and the neighbouring countries, we use our own fleet of reefer trucks,” says Sawaf. “Our farms are also conveniently located on the National Highway from Tabuk to Jeddah.”