11-13 December 2017 Dubai Convention & Exhibition Centre

natural and organic

Three Reasons for the Rise in Demand for Organic, Natural and Healthy Products in the Middle East

The organic revolution has taken over the world, and Middle East is no exception. Organic and natural products are the healthy and eco-friendly choice for consumers - for good reason. They lack harmful chemicals that can hamper nutritional value, cause allergies and instigate long-term diseases.

How did the organic and natural revolution spread in the Middle East, especially the UAE? According to industry insights, there are three primary reasons.

Firstly, many experts are of the opinion that social media and online health influencers are some of the chief promoters of organic products. With the advent of social media, consumers are more aware of products that are right for them, their family and the environment.

One such individual who shares this frame of thought is Thorsten Beermann, executive chef, Hilton Garden Inn RAK, who sources organic ingredients for his preparations.

“The organic lifestyle choice is a hugely popular way of life which has slowly established itself from over a decade ago. With age of social media and the influx of health cafes, supermarkets stocking larger organic selections and local food markets in the UAE and beyond, a healthier lifestyle choice is everywhere you turn. The UAE is home to some of the most popular health and wellness influencers in the Middle East and new healthy food delivery plans, coupled with an increase in boot camp style activities, shows the region is recognizing the importance of being health conscious” he says.

Another reason for the spike in growth is the continuous rise of healthy-eating trends, especially among millennials. Consumers need to know about the ingredients used in their food and personal care products before trusting them.

Vila Vasoodaven, the founder of Green Chic - an online beauty store selling a wide range of natural and organic products, says this trend isn’t only restricted to food and beverages, but cosmetics as well.

“When it comes to beauty, the decision to buy organic is based on many things. In most cases, people choose to go organic because they realize the negative impact ingredients such as phthalates and SLS can have on their health. On top of that, they learn that natural products use some fantastic ingredients and are made ethically. But what is interesting to see is that people are also choosing to go organic because they are just as, or more effective than synthetic products.”

Lastly, consumers are often under the misconception that organic goods are charged at a much higher premium than regular goods. Thankfully, the UAE government provides a healthy push for organic farmers, levelling the playing field and making organic products more accessible and competitive compared to their inorganic counterparts.

“The government has promoted the organic industry amongst farmers. They have helped farmers to start growing organic products. As a result, prices are coming down, so they are more comparable with equivalent products in a higher quality. With growing in popularity in the UAE and the Middle East, it is necessary to bring in more controls. Products sold as organic have to be certified as organic for authenticity. Thankfully the UAE government has been doing a lot in this regard.” Says Peter Lonsdale, the CEO of Retail at Souq Planet, the first digital supermarket in the Middle East. Peter sources organic and natural products for the online store.

The growth in organic farming in the region is quite phenomenal. The area allotted to organic farming has increased from 2,360 acres in 2009 to a whopping 46,900 acres in 2017.

The time to enter the market is riper than ever before. The organic trend is not dying anytime soon, and it would benefit companies to become a part of it. Exhibitions such as The Middle East Organic and Natural Products Expo create opportunities for such groups.

The Middle East Organic and Natural Products Expo has been running for fifteen years in the region connecting suppliers from around the world with distributors, retailers, import-export companies and more - becoming a trademark name in the organic space. The exhibition is the only platform in the Middle East and North Africa for buyers and sellers of organic and natural goods to meet and discuss about business opportunities. This year, the expo is expected to have over 200 exhibitors from 43 countries, and over 6,000 trade visitors. Visitors can pre-register at www.naturalproductme.com and capitalize on their time by setting up online meetings with exhibitors matching their product profile. The exhibition will take place from December 11th to 13th at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

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Organic Companies Taking Lead in Combating Climate Change

Many organic food firms have sustainability ingrained in their corporate DNA, spearheading a raft of initiatives involving sustainable agricultural projects, ethical sourcing and social investments. In recent years, many are responding to climate change by undertaking a number of carbon management initiatives. Some are undertaking carbon measurement analysis and reducing their footprints, whilst others are adopting novel techniques to offset emissions.

The Sekem Group, the largest organic enterprise in the Middle-East, is improving the soil quality of reclaimed land in the Egyptian desert. By using novel composting technologies, it is successfully improving soil fertility and absorbing carbon dioxide from the air. Other organic food enterprises are also using the novel compositing technologies of Soil & More. As will be shown in the Sustainable Foods Summit, soil composting can play an important role in combating climate change by sequestrating carbon emissions.

Alpro, a leading organic and wellness company in Europe, has set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2030. Its Provamel brand of organic products already became carbon neutral last year.

The company is using renewable energy and has made changes to its manufacturing facilities to reduce its carbon footprint. It is also offsetting carbon emissions by investing in reforestation projects in Asia. Although Alpro increased volume production by 11 percent between 2008 and 2011, it has managed to reduce its carbon emissions by double-digit levels over the same period.

Yeo Valley Organic, the UK’s leading organic food company, recently won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development in recognition of its sustainability commitment. It has reduced its carbon footprint by developing a carbon neutral heating system for its head office using home-grown Miscanthus bio-fuel and sourcing renewable energy. Yeo Valley Organic is also investing in environmental conservation projects that involve preserving English woodlands.

Many other European organic food companies are also involved in measuring, reducing and offsetting their carbon footprints. Some like Alter Eco and Alpro have set targets to become carbon neutral, whilst others want to provide greater transparency to consumers. Some like the Dutch company EOSTA have come up with innovative labelling schemes for ‘climate change’ organic fruits & vegetables. Such initiatives are also being undertaken by leading organic food companies in North America, including Stonyfield Farm and WhiteWave Foods.

Some say organic food companies are adapting to changes in consumer behaviour, since organic products do not always meet the needs of sophisticated consumers. A more pragmatic view is that organic food companies are taking the lead in preparing for a low carbon economy. Whatever the reason, pioneers like Alpro and Yeo Valley Organic are setting sustainability benchmarks for all type of companies in the food industry.

Posted by : Organic Companies


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