The holy month of Ramadan commenced this week (w/c 6 June), welcoming a period of fasting and feasting throughout the Muslim world. For fresh produce suppliers, it means being prepared to provide for the sizeable and hugely varied spreads common to the majority of houses each evening.
In the UAE, research company Euromonitor expects retail sales to increase by 12 per cent during the month compared with the previous one, with beverages, dates and fresh fruit expected to record higher sales.
Restaurants equally see a boost in business during the month, with most offering special Ramadan menus, offers and discounts.
“During Ramadan, the trade picks up,” says Ali Bidshahri, general manager of Dubai-based trader Yalda Trading. “People have big feasts at the end of the day, they stay up late and eat a lot, and there is always a lot of variety.”
While spending also tends to rise on less healthy items such as rice and sugar, increasing awareness about issues including obesity and diabetes is good news for fruit and vegetable consumption over Ramadan.
“For the first few days of Ramadan, there is now more of a focus on salads and vegetables,” says Hani Ayloush, owner of Fruit Line Trading. “The last few days there’s a bigger focus on fruit. At the beginning of Ramadan, everyone wants to have a big varied feast, but later on it settles down. Since there is often too much food, a lot goes to charities.”
Market research company YouGov has revealed that it is conducting an online study of consumer behaviour in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to identify the key consumption trends before, during and after Ramadan.
Initial findings show that 53 per cent of consumers in these countries expect to spend more during the holy month, with 93 per cent anticipating an increase in spending on food and drink.