Saudi appetite for organic food said to be growing – survey

By Sam Bridge – Arabian Business

A third of Saudi consumers say they are purchasing more organic products than a year ago

The appetite for organic foods in Saudi Arabia is on an upward trajectory, with a third of consumers (33 percent) purchasing more in the last 12 months compared to the previous year, according to a new survey.

The poll, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Arla Foods, also revealed that over half of Saudi consumers (55 percent) purchase organic foods more than once a month.

The leading driver of this trend is health reasons (64 percent) with 49 percent of consumers believing organic food to be healthy, more natural (45 percent) and safer for consumption (44 percent) when compared to non-organic food due to production methods that are free from pesticides, added hormones and antibiotics.

In January, Arla launched Arla Organic Milk across markets in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, as part of its commitment to make organic accessible and affordable to families in the Middle East.

According to the survey, over half of Saudi consumers (51 percent) also believe organic products to taste better.

Ethical food choice motives – concern for environment (19 percent) and animal welfare (12 percent) – also have a strong influence on consumers’ attitudes in Saudi Arabia, it added.

Fruit and vegetables is the dominant organic category, making up 66 percent of the market, followed by dairy (50 percent), eggs (49 percent), poultry (45 percent), cereals and bakery (44 percent), fish (36 percent), followed by red meat (35 percent).

Of the 24 percent of consumers that never purchase organic, 51 percent of consumers are simply not in the habit of purchasing organic. This may be attributed to the fact that one in four (25 percent) said that there is limited availability in stores.

Price is also considered a major barrier cited by almost a third (32 percent) of respondents.

Commenting on the research, Ann-Camilla Kjaempe, category director at Arla Foods said: “The organic food segment is gathering pace in Saudi Arabia, bolstered by consumers’ growing interest in health and wellness.

“Consumers are increasingly looking out for more natural foods, as we have seen from the first few months of launching Arla Organic. The research also indicates that consumers are supportive of animal welfare and environmental concerns and consider these as attractive product attributes that influence their purchasing decisions.”

She added: “While the popularity of organic food began with fruit and vegetables we are now witnessing consumers exploring categories such as organic dairy, meat and grocery. Consumers are increasingly looking to purchase organic but traditionally the two main obstacles are price and availability. At Arla, we are committed to making organic more accessible to consumers in the Middle East so that it becomes mainstream rather than a niche market.”