Close to 9/10th of the global consumption of organic products occurs in North America and Europe. However, there are other countries to explore for brands, processors, etc. The Middle East countries include: Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen. Population of the Middle East: The region covers an area of over 7 million km2 with a population of 470 million inhabitants (2021). In comparison, the European population is over 746 million people (2018).

the Middle East
Waitrose, the biggest supermarket in Dubai

Israel

It is the primary organic market in the Middle East with over 8,900,000 inhabitants (2021), for comparison, Belgium had 11,697,557 inhabitants as of January 1, 2023. The Israeli organic market was estimated at €68 million in 2019 (Agence BIO in France). In 2019, organic foods accounted for 13% of fresh product sales. Similar to other countries, major retailers have introduced private label organic brands.

The Israeli retail market is largely dominated by two major chains, Rami Levy and Shufersal. Rami Levy is seeking to collaborate with an international supermarket chain, likely the French group Auchan. This announcement comes as Israeli supermarkets face increased competition with the entry of the French supermarket chain Carrefour and 7-Eleven into Israel. Shufersal: By the end of 2021, Shufersal had over 300 stores in total and 90 branches of Be Drugstores Ltd. The company employs 17,000 people. Shufersal’s private label is the largest and most diversified in Israel, and it includes an organic range under its “green” brand.

Specialized distribution in Israel

Nizat Haduvdevan: The largest chain of organic and dietetic supermarkets in Israel, with over 50 stores nationwide.

Anise Teva: Anis chain offers healthy alternatives, vitamins, minerals, organic products, health, and quality of life.

The natural corner, Maggies garden, Zmora organic are independent organic brands.

The Middle East covers an area of over 7 million km2 with a population of 470 million inhabitants

Lebanon

Specialized stores in Lebanon include the French franchise La Vie Claire (3 stores), independents like Bio verdi, A new earth organic store, Vivre organique, found in all regions.

Saudi Arabia

The organic market in Saudi Arabia has developed well in recent years, reaching €52 million in 2018. According to Business France, the market for organic and “natural” foods is expected to grow by an average of 14.8% per year between 2019 and 2026. Over 80% of organic foods consumed in Saudi Arabia are imported. More than two-thirds of the population is under 30 years old and highly connected. This new generation seeks qualitative and healthy products (Agence BIO in France).

the Middle East
Mall of the Emirates is a shopping center located in the Al Barsha district of Dubai

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The organic market in the UAE was valued at €113 million in 2015 (Agence BIO in France). “Consumers in the United Arab Emirates are increasingly interested in organic products, especially those belonging to Generation Y as they attach great importance to the consumption of healthy foods. The consumption of organic products is mainly concentrated in large cities.”

The UAE is the first country in the world to appoint a Minister of State for Food and Water Security to streamline all efforts to ensure adequate, safe, affordable, and nutritious food for all. The UAE has developed a comprehensive national food security strategy with the intention of being ranked number one in the global food security index by 2051. This is the result of growing demand for more transparency, availability, and education on organic products from local consumers.

Large retailers in this region

Carrefour: Majid Al Futtaim introduced Carrefour to the region in 1995 and holds operating rights for the brand in more than 30 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Today, Majid Al Futtaim operates over 375 Carrefour stores in 17 countries, serving over 750,000 customers daily and employing more than 37,000 people. The brand opened its first Carrefour BIO store in February 2022 in the United Arab Emirates.

Union Coop: In general, multiple stores are needed to find everything needed in Dubai. One must also keep an eye on the budget because, as everyone knows, life is expensive in the UAE. The offer is affordable and varied, with a beautiful section of fruits & vegetables from the Middle East and Europe.

Spinneys and Waitrose, the more Anglo-Saxon, share a higher-end market, and it must be acknowledged that shopping there is very enjoyable. It’s expensive, yes, but quality products that are not found elsewhere are available, including a “pork” section for non-Muslims, which many appreciate finding in Dubai. These stores, distributed in often residential areas of Dubai, particularly delight the English, who find international products there.

Spinneys (Albwar dy Investment, 100% owner of the franchise) is an Emirati chain of supermarkets and hypermarkets operating in the Middle East, founded in 1924 in Alexandria, Egypt. Spinneys Dubai operates more than 65 stores in the United Arab Emirates and also operates 7 stores in Oman.

Waitrose (Albwardy Investment) Waitrose & Partners has 17 licensed stores in the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East.

Author: Gerard Gontier, French Organic Market Expert

Article Originally Published in Bio Eco Actual International Yearbok 2023 – Trends 2024.

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