UAE consumers show a growing interest in natural foods, backed by the understanding that natural produce is the healthier choice, a survey has said.
Nearly 60 percent of the participants agreed that the naturalness of the product influences their grocery choices, the highest of all markets, according to the survey by the Irish food board, Bord Bia, which explored purchasing habits across 13 countries to better understand how different markets are responding to these changes.
UAE consumers have prioritized sustainability as a food and drink mandate. The country presents a unique mix of consumers as a majority of the country’s population of 9.89 million people are expats, with less than a sixth made up of locals.
Kieran Fitzgerald, Regional Director – Middle East, for Bord Bia, said, “These survey results suggests that the shift in consumer behaviours caused by the effects of the pandemic can no longer be considered a passing fad, particularly in the Middle East. The food and drink industry need to pay attention to consumer demands now more than ever, and it is becoming more evident that there is an incredible opportunity for food producers looking to grow internationally to adopt sustainability at the core of their business strategy.”
Linked to sustainability, UAE consumers are also increasingly aware of food quality and traceability, and as a result willing to pay a premium for food and beverage products that are quality assured, have high nutritional value and are natural.
Nearly a third (29 percent) of UAE beef consumers are willing to pay a premium for quality assured beef, ahead of all other attributes. Additionally, a half of the UAE participants (47 percent) affirmed their interest in natural dairy products.
“This greater interest in food quality indicates that the UAE market is likely to make their selections based on nutritional values and naturalness of the products. This reinforces the fact that businesses need to work towards educating their consumers about their sustainability agenda and wider food production practices in order to be a successful business,” Kieran added.
Additionally, 84 percent of UAE consumers confirmed making an effort to limit their consumption of artificial additives in the last 12 months, significantly higher than the global average of 75 percent.