Demand for organic on the increase in UAE, but on-pack claims remain low

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Organic claims provide an opportunity to stand out from the crowd in the Midle East. ©iStock
Organic claims provide an opportunity to stand out from the crowd in the Midle East. ©iStock

Related tags Saudi arabia United arab emirates Middle east

Consumers and retailers in the UAE are slowly seeking more organic products, but on-pack claims from manufacturers remain low.

According to analysis from Mintel, the kingdom is increasingly hungry for more organic products.

It says last May’s ban on the import of certain fruits from countries including Egypt, Oman, Lebanon and Yemen due to concerns over pesticide residues has increased demand for organic goods.

Meanwhile the retail space devoted to organic products in UAE has increased by 60% over the last four years, a trend that is now spreading to, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.

However, senior innovation analyst Amrin Walji said only a few brands were promoting the organic claim on-pack. 

“According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), just 2% of food and drink launches in the UAE were positioned as organic in the year to October 2017,”​ said Walji.

“Instead, the majority of operators focus on wider natural and free-from claims: ‘no additives and preservatives’ is currently the most used ‘natural’ claim in the market, featuring on 16% of all product launches. Therefore, there is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd by promoting organic claims.”

Brand activity

Some major food brands identified by Mintel as leading the organic charge in the UAE include Arla, which recently launched its Organic Milk, as well as Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup.

Walji added that leading retailers have a role to play in raising consumer awareness of organic food and drink, and in continuing to increase the shelf space available for these products. 

“This will encourage local food and drink producers to develop new organic lines as well as open the door for more imported organic brands from more developed organic markets.”

Similar to the Middle East, sales of organic food in Asia​ still lag far behind those in the rest of the world.

Although it is home to 8% of the world's organic farmland, organic food sales in Asia account for just 6% of the global total of US$82bn.

And organic sales today account for less than 1% of total food sales in across Asia — even in the top three markets of China, South Korea and Japan.

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