Organic consciousness is increasing globally, and in the UAE’s health-aware market, adoption of an organic diet is accelerating. In fact, organic produce is the fastest-growing food trend in the UAE - and it only looks set for further growth.
According to Statistica, global sales of organic retail exceeded $188 billion in 2021 and to cross $200 billion by the end of 2022 – while locally, organic retail is set to hit more than $50 million in UAE alone by 2025 – with a significant acceleration of 25 per cent between now and then.
A key factor driving this growth is millennial consumers’ increasingly sophisticated knowledge around their health, food and the environment - which continues to develop thanks to a growing wealth of accessible and easily digestible information. With more than 70 per cent of the UAE’s population under the age of 50 - the majority of that made up of the generational powerhouse that is millennials - the UAE market is ripe for an organic revolution.
Consumers are continuously being passively and actively educated on organic food, with health-focussed and tradition-challenging documentaries, podcasts, and studies available at their fingertips. Conversation around lifestyle health is a constant bubbling pot on the mainstream and social media stoves - from Netflix to TikTok.
This all amounts to consumers making more conscious decisions around how they spend their money and what they put in their bodies – all while considering how the growing and manufacturing processes of these products impact the earth. Unlike their elder relatives with lifelong loyalty to brands and rigid consumer habits - preferring to do (and eat) what they always have done - the younger consumer wants to learn and adapt – for the good of their health and the planet’s.
This heightened consciousness, coupled with an increased readiness to invest in health, has helped organic food make its mark. Now it is time for retailers to make it easier for a wider demographic to access organic food.
This increasing demand for organic options in the UAE is already seeing retailers become more accessible and innovative as they battle for custom – with everything from less intimidating language used in marketing materials, to more affordable organic produce creating accessible entry points for the organic-curious consumer, and more places to shop.
Very positively, a study showed that 80 per cent of the UAE’s population have an appetite for organic produce. It is fantastic to see that the desire is there, but we know there is a stalling point around price. Cost is the biggest barrier for the crossover shopper from conventional supermarkets. But there is confidence that growing demand will allow for a steady drop in prices thanks to increased production and retailer competition. As wider adoption occurs, this will increase the need for supply.
We are pioneering the move to make organic and natural food more affordable including introducing a permanent 20 per cent off on fresh fruit and vegetables, and a monthly 20 per cent off everything weekend, which is popular and further demonstrating a real consumer need for healthier products at the right price point.
Looking at the other food trends impacting organic retail, plant-based foods and meat-like vegan and vegetarian options are continuing to rise as a category, providing an alternative to cholesterol-heavy animal products. Increased transparency around produce practices will continue to inevitably lead to more consumers choosing organic foods. For example, the high-profile conversation around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their potential toxic effects, is leading to consumers to ask more questions around food production.
The ‘functional beverage’ market - i.e. drinks that quickly deliver favorable value to the body such as inflammation reduction, immunity strengthening, and nutrition - will continue to rise. This concept has been around for decades – think of previous generations drinking orange juice for a swift boost of Vitamin C when not feeling well.
Amid the science and figures, I also want to share a reminder that food is something to be enjoyed. When we feel excited by our ingredients, joy and creativity is heightened. The organic food journey is one which inspires, and the story and sentiment attached to it is a continuing driving factor in the popularity of organic retail, especially to our emotionally-motivated millennial consumer.
Organic foods are here to stay and will continue growing in market share in the UAE and the rest of the world. I am proud and excited to continue our mission of providing ‘organic produce for the people’, bringing nourishment via the highest quality ingredients at a price that everyone can afford.