That’s according to a survey by Nielsen, which found this to be the case for 67% of respondents from the emirates, and for 66% of its bigger neighbour.
“While consumers strive to lead healthier lives, food manufacturers and retailers are important partners in supporting consumers in looking after their wellbeing,” said Arslan Ashraf, Nielsen’s regional managing director.
“But only less than half of the consumers believe that their needs are being fully met by current product offerings.
“This presents a good opportunity for food manufacturers and retailers to fully realise the growth potential in this space through innovation.”
Yet manufacturers should play close attention to the findings, with just over half of UAE residents and 60% of Saudis saying that they could not easily buy the healthy products they wanted in stores.
To redress the balance, Ashraf counsels companies to “innovate by incorporating or removing undesirable ingredients to improve the nutritional profile of their products.
“At the same time, retailers may want to look beyond a single category or department, and recognise that health and wellness matters across the entire store by carrying an array of healthful options to cater to these needs.”
The Nielsen Global Health and Ingredients Sentiment Survey also found that the top-two health concerns in the Gulf were being overweight, at 52%, followed by having high-cholesterol (33%).
Both Saudi and UAE residents suffered slightly higher perceptions of being overweight and concerns over losing weight than the average of the rest of the world, at 55% and 51% respectively.
Approximately two-thirds said they actively make dietary choices to help prevent health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.
And another two-thirds agreed that foods without artificial ingredients were always healthier.