Dubai: The Gulf’s consumers’ are keeping a keen eye on the weighing scales … health and wellness — and products that support it — are now their top priority, according to a Nielsen survey. In fact, 67 per cent of respondents in the UAE and 66 per cent in Saudi Arabia conform to this opinion.

Consumer product marketers had better take these findings into consideration.

“While consumers strive to lead healthier lives, food manufacturers and retailers are important partners in supporting consumers in looking after their well-being,” said Arslan Ashraf, Managing Director, Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan, Nielsen, in a statement. “But only less than half of the consumers believe that their needs are being fully met with current product offerings available in the markets.

“This presents a good opportunity for food manufacturers and retailers to fully realise the growth potential in this space through innovation.”

Fifty-two per cent of UAE based respondents felt their health aspirations are not being fully met by what is available at stores, while the corresponding number for Saudi Arabia was 60 per cent.

Undesirable ingredients

So, what should vendors be doing to tilt the scales in their favour? “Manufacturers should … innovate by incorporating or removing undesirable ingredients to improve the nutritional profile of their products,” said Ashraf. “At the same time, retailers may want to look beyond a single category or department, and recognise that health and wellness matters across the entire store by carrying an array of healthful options to cater to these needs.”

The Nielsen Global Health and Ingredients Sentiment Survey generated these pointers:


• Being healthy has its “emotional and social manifestations to consumers;

• Among women in the Gulf, the top three health concerns were being overweight (52 per cent), high-cholesterol (33 per cent), hair health (30 per cent) as well as feeling fatigue and stress (28 per cent);

• The perception of being overweight and concern to lose weight are reported by a much higher proportion in the UAE and Saudi Arabia versus their actual prevalence. More than half say they feel overweight (51 per cent in the UAE, 55 per cent for Saudi Arabia) and trying to lose weight (63 per cent in the UAE and 65 per cent in Saudi Arabia), higher than that of global average (49 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively).

• Approximately two-thirds of respondents say they actively make dietary choices to help prevent health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension (67 per cent in the UAE).

• Many strongly or somewhat agree that foods without artificial ingredients are always more healthful (68 per cent of UAE respondents).