A seasoned marketing professional with experience in GCC, Pakistan and Levant, Khalid Salamat works with manufacturers, distributors and suppliers through his master franchising distribution company.
As a manufacturer representative, he specializes in selecting, screening and managing business partnerships while providing the required support for developing product portfolios, channels and markets.
As someone with more than 30 years of experience in this space, we asked him about his opinion on organic and natural products in the region.
What natural/organic products do you import into the Middle East? Do you also re-export? If so, where do you re-export to?
We are a master franchising distribution company which acts as the on-ground representative of the supplier. We work through distributors in the region who import the products. We facilitate this process but do not import ourselves.
Can you tell me about the demand for organic products in the region? What is the latest trend that you see in organic products?
There is a positive development in the organic products sector in the region which stems from growing consumer awareness about the benefits of using organic products. The consumer is exposed to information about organic products from myriads of sources ranging from electronic and print to social media where you see active groups and forums promoting products and discussing related issues on a daily basis. On the other hand, the brand owners are proactively engaged in promoting their ranges through multiple platforms from modern trade to pharmacies to clinics to health food stores etc.
Why should people go organic according to you?
The use of chemicals and pesticides is corroding our environment and destroying human and animal health beyond our comprehension. Diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimers are becoming more and more common every day. The root cause lies in the consumption of toxic and processed food and using household cleaning and personal care products loaded with harmful chemicals. The argument in favor of organic as opposed to the factory made or chemically treated products can be summed up in two words, God-made vs. Man-made. Given a choice most people would opt for the former as its safety is guaranteed.
Where do you import your products from, and how much of a role does certification play in your decision? What are your main challenges in sourcing?
The products I presently represent are from India and Denmark.
Do you have private label products?
From where and/or what products would you like to source more?
Not one particular country or place. Wherever there is quality and endorsement by recognized authorities.
Have you visited the Middle East Organic Natural Products Expo before?
How do you use Middle East Organic Expo as a sourcing platform? How useful is the O2O Connect platform?
It is indeed useful for sourcing. I hope we have a higher number of exhibitors in the coming year.
Interviewed by Menaka Ramakrishnan, Buyer Manager