In addition, 38% of consumers said they have bought more organic food in the last 12 months compared to the previous year.
1,000 individuals responded to the online survey conducted in February. The findings were revealed last week (September 19), a few days before the International Organic Day (September 22).
Fruit and vegetables (69%) formed the bulk of the UAE organic food market. This is followed by eggs (49%), dairy (40%), fish (36%), poultry (33%), red meat (29%), and cereals and bakery (30%).
Commenting on the results, Ann-Camilla Kjaempe, category director at Arla Foods said: “The organic food segment is gathering pace in the UAE, bolstered by consumers’ growing interest in health and wellness.”
“Consumers are increasingly looking out for more natural foods, as we have seen from the first few months of launching Arla Organic.”
“While the popularity of organic food began with fruit and vegetables we are now witnessing consumers exploring categories such as organic dairy, meat and grocery items.”
The results also echoed an analysis conducted by Mintel earlier this year. For instance, retail space devoted to selling organic foods in the UAE had grown by 60% in the last four years.
Our recent report also showed that in order to meet the demand for organic food, e-commerce sites selling organic foods have sprouted up in the UAE.
An example is Organic&Real.com, which specialises in selling certified organic, natural, vegan, gluten-free and free-from food products. Almost 2,000 products are available for sale on the site as of one month ago.
Some of its most popular products include baby food, fruits and vegetables, honey and dates.
Why go for organic?
Health is the main reason for most of the consumers. 59% said they consume organic food due to health reason, while 45% thought that organic food tasted better.
57% of the consumers believed organic food is healthy, while 50% thought it is more natural and 47% said that it is safer for consumption as compared to non-organic food.
They also believed that the production of organic food is free from pesticides (53%), added hormones (43%), and antibiotics (20%).
A handful of respondents also said they consume organic food due to ethical reasons.
For instance, 21% chose organic product out of concern for the environment; while 12.5% cited animal welfare as a reason.
“The research indicates that consumers support animal welfare and environmental concerns and consider these as attractive attributes that influence their purchasing decisions,” Kjaempe said.
However, a substantial number of respondents also doubted the benefits of organic foods, with nearly one in four (24%) saying that they do not believe there are any added benefits to it.
Price still a barrier
The survey found that 17% of the respondents have never purchased organic food.
49% of them explained that price is the biggest barrier to spending on organic food.
On the other hand, 46% of them said they do not have the habit of purchasing organic food.