Saudi’s e-commerce trends: Preference for processed food dips as health demands soar

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

More Saudi consumers are buying healthier food, such as whole grains and organic food, according to Danube, Saudi Arabia’s hypermarket. ©iStock
More Saudi consumers are buying healthier food, such as whole grains and organic food, according to Danube, Saudi Arabia’s hypermarket. ©iStock

Related tags Health Organic e-commerce

More Saudi shoppers are buying healthier food, such as whole grains and organic food, while demand for highly processed food have dropped.

Danube, Saudi Arabia’s hypermarket, which also operates the country’s first e-commerce grocery platform, released new trends observed in its online grocery shopping application Danube App last week.

Findings released showed that both male and female consumers are becoming more health conscious, with an almost “identical rise”​ in demand for healthier food, such as whole grains, organic food, fruits and vegetables.

The trend was seen alongside a dip in the demand for highly processed food.

Riding on the waves of healthy living, Danube last year added a superfood section that features quinoa, chia seeds as well as various high protein food in its retail stores. 

Besides Danube, other grocery retailers, such as Manuel and Carrefour are also increasing their offerings of better-for-you products.

A Euromonitor report published last June noted that these retailers have “played a key role in popularising better-for-you packaged food among Saudi consumers in recent years” ​with their “wide assortments of imported better-for-you packaged food brands”.

“Over 2016-2017, these retailers responded to increased budget-consciousness among consumers by expanding their offers of lower-priced imported better-for-you products,”​ the report added.

For instance, food manufacturer Fromageries Bel SA has set the retail price of its spreadable cheese product that was lower in sodium and fat at similar prices as other regular spreadable processed cheese.

During the recent Gulfood conference, OZCO research manager Hamza Nizal also emphasised that Saudi’s healthier food market was booming​, with demand for organic foods, gluten-free, vegan and high-protein foods rising, yet, consumers remained highly cost-conscious at the same time.

Men’s participation

On the other hand, the findings showed that more men were buying baby products, including baby food.

In the past 12 months, the number of male consumers buying baby products grew by more than 5%, while there was also a 5% drop in female consumers ordering these products.

“A great fact from our online shopping behaviour data is the gender gap narrowing across the baby product categories. From this insight, we can surmise that one of the ways new fathers in the Kingdom are supporting their wives with the arrival of newborns is taking on the tasks of grocery shopping,” ​said Majed M Al Tahan, co-founder and CEO of Danube Online.

“Online shopping can be a convenient fast way to get these items at home and it’s a nice trend to observe,” ​he added.

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