Having set up the plant-based, free-from, snacking brand in 2017, Koyess has noticed a few drivers that are pushing healthy eating to become mainstream “in the near future”.
He said: “Firstly, consumers are getting extremely well read and educated about healthy eating and how to determine what foods and ingredients are better than others. This is in large part due to the number of clinical research papers published, the barrage of documentaries we’ve all watched and of course the wide-reaching net of social media. Having said that, healthy eating hasn’t hit mainstream across the Middle East just yet, but you can definitely see zones popping up in major cities such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc.”
There has been a push in recent years for calorie counts to be included on all menus, but plans to introduce it into the UAE by January 2020 were delayed until 2022 by Dubai Municipality. While Koyess agrees that menus should display nutritional information, he said it’s only half the solution.
“Good and bad calories are just as important, for example you can have a 400 calorie snack in terms of a single doughnut or the same caloric count and a much more nutritious hearty salad. Obviously one of these options is better for you. So I think consumers need to be able to navigate these pitfalls when the menu options are not so clear cut. In addition, low calories doesn’t always mean healthy, but at least when consumers see the calorie count on the menu, it should hopefully trigger some key questions about whether or not the items are healthy or not.”
With Koyess citing statistics from North America that healthy brands are growing twice as fast as conventional F&B brands, he expects the trend to continue growing in the Middle East as well as the region catches up.
“Additionally, I think health conscious consumers will have higher loyalty versus non-health conscious as there aren’t many options for good healthy food just yet, so they will stick to your brand/concept,” he said. “My advice would be, to become one of the first to attract a loyal consumer following, be slightly ahead of the curve and open up a completely new revenue stream by catering to the growing health conscious category.”