More info needed on organic food, says UAE study

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

More info needed on organic food, says UAE study

Related tags Organic food United arab emirates

Most UAE consumers are aware of, and approve of, organic food, but feel limited by inadequate knowledge, high cost and poor availability of organic products, according to a study.

Of 266 respondents from across the UAE, 79.3% had heard of organic food, said the results of the paper “Exploring the Consumption of Organic Foods in the United Arab Emirates​”, published last month. Within this group, 88.6% had tried organic food, and 83% said they were aware of the differences between organic and conventional food, although the study did not test the veracity of this assertion.

Health yes, taste no

But while survey participants felt organic products reduced health risks (73%), prevented obesity (73%) and helped build “strong future generations” (74.4%), they were much more equivocal on whether they actually liked organic food. Only 60.7% said they preferred organic food, with 39.3% saying they liked conventional foods better, and 54.5% said they didn’t like the taste of organic foods.

Overall, though, respondents were highly favourable to organics, seeing them as safer for the environment, healthier, and free from unnecessary hormones and antibiotics, in the case of organic meat. Just under two-thirds also saw buying organic food as being influenced by family, friends or advertisers, or the need to follow a trend.

People, especially the young, are becoming more aware of organic foods and how they can positively affect their health and environment. Most of the participants in this study prefer organic foods over conventional foods and consume fish, fruits, and chocolates more than other types of organic foods​,” said the paper.

The majority of participants agreed that organic food consumption is a type of social prestige and a change in lifestyle that can motivate people to buy organic foods. In addition, our data indicate that organic food consumption is stimulated by advertisements, friends, and trend​,” it added.

Cut organic costs

The biggest obstacles to increased organic food consumption, according around two-thirds of the study’s respondents, are a lack of availability, a lack of knowledge among consumers, high cost and short life-span. When asked what actions would improve perception of organic food, 86.7% said a reduction in cost would help, with more than 80% also seeing more advertising and awareness campaigns, more organic food restaurants and stores, and the inclusion of organic food education on school curricula as being helpful.

There are many gaps in knowledge on the subject of organic foods that need to be filled. Therefore, we recommend further studies on organic foods, and a thorough analysis to ascertain the nutrient compositions of organic foods should be conducted​,” the paper recommended.

The study surveyed 500 people across the UAE, of whom 266 responded, between October and December 2013. The paper was authored by Wasan A. A. Al-Taie, Mohamad K. M. Rahal, Aya S. A. Al-Sudani and Khaled A. O. Al-Farsi, of the American University in the Emirates, and published in Sage Open in June 2015.

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1 comment

Mums going for organics

Posted by OBE Organic,

Interesting study. Our certified organic, halal and 100% grass-fed beef is sold in supermarkets in the UAE such as Carrefour; we find that most of the people buying our beef are health-conscious mums. When women become mothers for the first time we see them taking extra effort to cleanse their lives of potentially harmful chemicals. There is certainly opportunity for brands like ours, retailers, experts and media to continue providing more education around pure, wholesome and chemical-free organic foods.

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