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UAE residents’ preference for healthier, fresher foods rise during Covid-19

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on February 21, 2021
Visitors at Gulfood 2021, which opens its doors on Sunday at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), with global experts and companies set to highlight a range of topics ranging from food safety and innovation to sustainable dining and food safety. — Photo by Juidin Bernarrd

The origins and provenance of food choices is also increasingly more important to shoppers in the UAE with a sharper focus on food safety standards

The UAE residents are placing more importance on buying fresh and higher quality food that helps boost their immune systems during the pandemic, says a new survey.

Commissioned by the Irish Food Board - Bord Bia, the survey results found that 50 per cent see nutritional content and the naturalness of their food and drink as being more important now as a result of the pandemic.

Similarly, half of adults are choosing foods that help boost immunity more often while almost half – 46 per cent – are taking supplements to fend off Covid-19 more often. Around 47 per cent of adults are having fresh fruit and vegetables more often while just over a third of adult shoppers (33 per cent) are having sweet treats less often.

The origins and provenance of food choices is also increasingly more important to shoppers in the UAE with a sharper focus on food safety standards.

“These revealing findings show the pandemic impact on shoppers is directly leading to decisions about what goes into the weekly shopping basket. Based on these results, we can see why UAE shoppers are increasingly picking Irish food and drink products to include in their weekly shop or choosing Irish based ingredients off the menu which come with the strong reputation for exceptional taste, of highest quality and produced to world leading standards,” said Claudia Saumell, director for Bord Bia Middle East.

Interestingly, another study released on Sunday revealed that food safety and hygiene have emerged as a major concern among the people worldwide with over two-thirds of consumers putting it a par with Covid-19 as a real threat to society.

Conducted by Tetra Pak, the study showed that consumer concerns about food safety and hygiene are on the rise.

Importantly, more than six out of 10 people agree that the world is heading for environmental disaster unless people change their daily habits while 63 per cent believe that pandemic lockdowns have brought environmental improvements that they would like to see maintained.

“Covid-19 has accelerated a reprioritisation of consumer needs while bringing new opportunities for the food and beverage companies to shape the industry. Addressing food safety concerns while minimising food waste cannot come at the expense of the planet,” said Amar Zahid, president Middle East and Africa at Tetra Pak.

“The food industry needs to step up towards the twin goals of protecting our planet and meeting the human need for food. Sustainable packaging plays a key role in this equation,” he added.

While health is deeply connected to heightened issues of food safety and hygiene, 50 per cent of consumers not only believe that improving food safety is the responsibility of manufacturers, but they also see it as the number one issue that companies need to tackle now and in the future.

waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com





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