Souq Planet is the first digital supermarket in the Middle East region. They are introducing new and innovative concepts to shopping in the region, such as self-scanning and “Click and Collect” which enables customers to shop online and collect purchased items from the store. They also have an app through which customers can shop on their mobile phones, called the “Souq Planet App.” We asked Peter Lonsdale, CEO- Retail , about his opinions on the organic industry in the region.
What type of natural/organic products/services do you sell in the Middle East?
We sell locally produced fruits and veggies, as well as chilled items. Our grocery items are sourced from all over the world including Australia, America, Europe and South Africa. We have a number of organic goods put up in our supermarkets such as frozen items, fruits and veggies, bakery items and more.
In your opinion, how popular is the organic industry in the UAE and the Middle East?
This movement started over 20 years ago in Europe and as the demand grew, people were producing organic goods locally, and now we are finally seeing this happen in the Middle East. Nowadays, people prefer buying organic. For example, if you put an organic tin of vegetables next to a regular tin of vegetables, consumers are more likely to pick up the organic tin.
Why, in your opinion, do people prefer buying organic nowadays?
Consumers are far more aware about what they put in their bodies. Social Media has played a massive role in changing people’s ideas and perceptions. The government has even promoted the organic industry amongst farmers. They have really helped farmers to start growing organic products. As a result, prices are coming down so they are more comparable with equivalent products in a higher quality.
With growing in popularity in the UAE and the Middle East it is necessary to bring in more controls. Products that are sold as organic have to be certified as organic for authenticity. Thankfully the UAE government has been doing a lot in this regard.
How do you determine the products to sell in this market?
We mainly listen to our customers and what the market wants in the region. I travel to trade shows all over the world and several products and trends catch me eye. We also take a look at social media and see what consumers are asking for. We try our best to meet their needs and give a fair price for the same.
Interviewed by Menaka Ramakrishnan, Buyer Manager