Over the past couple of decades, prevailing UAE retail industry setup displays a change of pattern in food consumption among the UAE population. There have been cumulative problems in the UAE due to the factors such as obesity. Consequently, national labeling emerges to be vital to give consumers information that can be useful in making a healthier food decision. With the increasing concerns regarding the interrelationship between lifestyle, health and nutrition among the UAE population; this study is oriented to evaluate the consumer's knowledge regarding the relevant information that is found in the labels and if the labels will help them in taking the wise decision when purchasing pre-packaged foods. Hence, making it vital to edify UAE consumers with regard to the essence of reading the food labels.
With the determined ascending of food sector around the Arabian Gulf region together with the UAE and the erections of buildings to serve as the mega food stores, the industry of food retail dominant shows changes in the consumption of food among the population that leads to the shift of focus towards processed food. The retailing supermarkets and the mounting investment in the food industry at the national level. There has been increasing health problems that are diet related, ranging from Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, which is termed as the leading cause of obesity and among other factors. For that reason, food labeling became essential, since it could offer the consumer with the key information that would assist in coming to a healthier food choice (Selnes,1993).
Food labels have been distinguished to be very critical public health tool which is being applied in promoting a balanced diet; and therefore, promoting the public health as well as the wellbeing. Information found on the food labels lights up the consumers knowledge towards a nutritional value of food together with enabling them to relate the nutritional values of the same food products than making a healthy, informed food choices that are being based on the pertinent nutrition information (Aziz & Chok, 2013).
Furthermore, it is exceptionally useful for the individuals who have been put on the special diet by their physicians, such as those who suffer from the high blood pressure and diabetes, to choose some preferable foods that will rhyme with their health conditions. With time the consumers are becoming gradually conscious of the connection between diseases and diet; hence leading to their increased demand for the nutritional information. Many of the locally manufactured and imported pre-packed food commodities are being printed with the nutritional information on their food labels, for both the consumers and the nutritionists (Begum, 2015).
The report by the World Health Organization shows that factors related to diet account for nearly 30% of the cancers incidences in the industrialized countries. So, nutrients are of essence for the growth and proper health maintenance among the human beings.
Globalization, the primary factor that affects the consumers together with their countries across the world, needs proper actions from countries to validate that their manufactured items, comprising of the food, are in the position of competing in the open market. Begum (2015) argues that, the use of the food labeling urges the manufacturers to enrich their products alongside; the trade can strategize the appropriate marketing strategies that will attract potential consumers. It will promote a benefiting state for both the manufacturers and the consumers.
As it is suggested by the cost benefiting analyses, saving in the cost of the heath care is comparatively greater than the incurred cost of mandatory labeling. The foreign experience has demonstrated that nutrition labeling may have a positive influence on the patterns of food consumption, saving the heart care costs as well as the type 2 diabetes is increasing annually. With the presentation of the mandatory nutrition labeling, a number of lives saved every year.
The application and influence of the contemporary labeling reveal that consumers identify themselves as knowledgeable concerning its use, the frequently read part of the food label were fat, sugar, calories, fiber and sodium contents. They apply attributes like % daily values, ingredient list, serving size health and nutrient claims; brands and price at the time that they are coming up with the in purchasing decision (Saaidin, Ab Hamid, & Kamari, 2016, April).
According to the article by Begum, (2015), lots of consumers have confidence that they comprehend with how to read the labels; and they consider using the food label instead of depending on their knowledge. Evaluating the consumers level of nutrition knowledge regarding cholesterol, dietary fats together with their attitudes on picking food created with their nutritious value instead of risk avoidance is vital. Their attitude and knowledge were positively related to their level of education. The ones with a higher standard of education are more open to health and nutrition education and utilize the similar value attitude to benefits and risk rather than risk avoidance.
Labeling statements can reveal a new information regarding the attributes that permit the consumers to come up may be influenced by different choices. The assessments of the consumers onto the information that is on the labels may get impacted by reference points. However, there are few concerns in addressing the consumers awareness regarding the nutrition aspects of labeling of food in the region. It was evident that although consumers were knowledgeable about the significance of reading the food labels; they were concerned with the information on the content, expiry date, as well as the manufacturing date of the packed product as the most vital information on the labels. It may be related to the fact that various foods repackaged or manufactured in the zone have labels missing many the nutrition information needed by the American standards like the serving size, nutrition facts, health claims, unique characteristics, health warnings and special usage (Mirghotbi & Pourvali, 2013).
In conclusion, increased diet connected to diseases in the UAE can be associated with the increasing consumption of foods that are pre-packed as well as the low awareness on the application of food labeling information. It is explicitly seen that this research is an educational nutrition and health influence to assist the consumers in making an informed choice when purchasing pre-packaged foods.
Aziz, Y. A., & Chok, N. V. (2013). The role of Halal awareness, Halal certification, and marketing components in determining Halal purchase intention among non-Muslims in Malaysia: a structural equation modeling approach. Journal of International Food & Agribusiness Marketing, 25(1), 1-23.
Begum, V. (2015). Effects of Kellogg's Nutritional Label on Consumer Buying Behaviour in Dubai, UAE. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 211, 1195-1202.
Mirghotbi, M., & Pourvali, K. (2013). Consumers attitude towards date marking system of packaged foods. Journal of Paramedical Sciences, 4(3).
Saaidin, M., Ab Hamid, N. R., & Kamari, M. N. (2016, April). A Study On Perceptions of Non-Muslim Consumers Towards Halal Food and Perceived Service Quality in Halal Restraurants. In GAI International Academic Conferences Proceedings (p. 158).
Selnes, F. (1993). An examination of the effect of product performance on brand reputation, satisfaction and loyalty. European Journal of marketing, 27(9), 19-35.
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