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The Middle East Eats Local

The Middle East Eats Local

Middle East Company News

The demand for local food is on the increase. According to Origin Oman market research 68% of consumers want to buy local and 49% want to buy more local produce than they do at the moment.

Origin Oman’s Bader Al Zadjali says:

“Given this demand, more local produce is going to show up on local supermarket shelves and that’s great news for farmers and consumers.”

According to Al Zadjali, “Local produce like, pomegranate, sea salt and goat sausage start out as exotic or niche offerings and then move into the mainstream based on consumer demand for variety, premium products and healthy foods.”

Organizer of Origin Oman’s 150 Kilometre Meal scheduled to be held at Knowledge Oasis Muscat on May 26, Al Zadjali and his colleagues have been studying the evolution of food popularity.

“Stage one is something we see in fine dining or ethnic food,” he says, adding that stage two is specialty-food-oriented retail and media channels, like the gourmet magazines we pick up in local supermarkets. Stage three finds the item in mainstream local restaurants and retail stores targeting recreational cooks and food lovers. Stage four finds such products getting general market coverage in family and women’s magazines. Finally, by stage five the product would be showing up in supermarkets or on fast-food menus either as a stand-alone product, flavouring or functional food.

The key reasons driving the demand for local produce seem to be that consumers want to know more about how their food has been produced. They also care about food safety, traceability, provenance and animal welfare.

“Oman-based shoppers also want freshness and to have a sense of food tasting like it should or used to do. In fact, if people made the effort even 20% to eat local, it would have a huge impact on the environment, the local economy and their communities,” says Al Zadjali.