Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Middle East locals and residents have become health conscious as they are now more driven to purchase plant-based and less sugary products, according to an assessment by a global research group covering 34 markets and which, three years back set up its regional headquarters in Dubai.
The conclusions are discussed in the March 2021 “Middle East: Rise of Healthy Food & Drink Trends” wherein shifts in regional consumer behaviours have been represented by 1,000 locals in Saudi Arabia. The report has indicated the need for more technological innovations covering health, nutrition and fitness to address confusions on basic healthy diet.
Interviewed, Mintel-Consumer Lifestyles Middle East & Africa research analyst Sarah Al Shaalan attributed the current situation to the determination of governments, particularly the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman to diminish rates of the diabetes-obesity twins, by actionable broader policies and preventive measures. She pointed at the continuing sweep of the 15-month Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), as the cause of the combined climbing interest in immune-boosters with the locally-produced fruits, vegetables and other food products.
Claiming that the research in Saudi Arabia has also been observed across the region, Al Shaalan added: “Middle Eastern consumers are focused a lot more on healthier lifestyles now because of the growing interest in nutrition, partly due to the rising levels in obesity.”
She continued: “It has been fueled by the introduction of government ‘sugar taxes’ to promote healthier eating habits which other countries in the region may soon follow. At the same time, there have been concerns about excess sugar and calorie intake; so consumers are now looking for products with ‘reduced sugar’ content.”
On COVID-19, immune boosters and the trending interest on the local produce, Al Shaalan said: “Since COVID-19, there has been a real shift towards the ‘local’ trend. Consumers are making local produce a priority, particularly good quality local fruits and vegetables. Plant-based products are also becoming more popular as consumers start to limit the amount of animal products they consume.
Meat is still very important but an opportunity exists for manufacturers to offer more plant-based in order to provide more choices for the consumers. We have seen some strong meat-alternative product launches in the region already, as well as dairy-free product launches.”
The study on the 1,000 Saudis, is among the twice-a-year global research projects of Mintel through its offices in the UK, USA, China, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brazil, Japan, India, Northern Ireland, and Germany.
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