Not enough organic stuff for children in Dubai, say parents
Parents say organic produce is usually expensive and not widely available
Organic foods and products are selling more, especially among millennial parents, because they believe it to be more nutritious than conventional foodstuffs. However, parents in the UAE have expressed that there aren't enough organic and safe-to-use products available for toddlers and small children, in the market.
Take Nina Thomas, a 30-year-old mother of a 2-year-old, for instance. "When my daughter Jenny was born, our first concern as parents was her health. I began consuming organic products a few months after I got pregnant and decided to do the same for my baby as well. Immediately, I realised how hard it is to find products," Thomas said.
Today, Thomas has to head to the weekly farmers' market in Business Bay and hunt for supermarkets with dedicated organic food stalls.
Anuradha Vijyakrishnan, a mother of two living in Karama, has put her kids in a practice of consuming organic foods.
"For fruits and vegetables, I try and buy local and seasonal products. Also, I grow a few greens and vegetables at home. Furthermore, I've grown friendly with farmers here as well," she said, adding that in some cases, organic foodstuff is way too expensive and not that easy to find in the UAE yet.
Though most retailers have a division dedicated to organic and naturally-produced products, parents say that they are usually expensive and not widely available.
Organic manufacturers state that the demand has gone up considerably in the last few years. Speaking at the Middle East Organic and Natural Expo that took place in Dubai on December 11-13, James Meltz, the exhibition director said: "The exhibition is in its 15th year and 25 of the companies and farmers are from the UAE, a considerable rise compared to previous years.
Meltz added: "As a parent myself, I've found it challenging to buy organic products, especially in the UAE. In comparison to markets in the US and EU, it's still in its nascent stages here."
The demand is not limited to food and other perishables, but also organic and naturally-produced body products, textiles.
Stevi Lowmass, CEO and founder of Camel Soap Factory, said: "There was a genuine demand for the soap from our buyers, especially those who have kids. So, we developed the product accordingly."
Janice Masoud, spokesperson for Under the Nile, a company that produces organic Egyptian cotton baby clothes said: "All sorts of chemicals are used to wash and manufacture baby products in the general market, but we use dyes and products that do not harm infants in any way. There is a thriving market for these products in the US; however, we need to raise awareness about it in this region."