Following the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in the United Arab Emirates, consumers were uncertain as to how long the virus would affect their lives, which, combined with the prospect of national lockdown and quarantine periods, led them to stockpile products. This helped boost demand in shelf stable fruit and vegetables packaging in 2020, as consumers prioritised products with long expiration dates that could be stocked and kept in case of product shortages, quarantine or isolation.
Frozen processed fruit and vegetables, which had already been recording healthy annual growth rates in the earlier years of the review period, saw a spike in demand in the United Arab Emirates in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic driving an increase in home cooking and the stockpiling of long-lasting products. This boosted the packaging unit volumes of flexible plastic used in frozen processed fruit and vegetables in this year.
With shelf stable products dominating processed fruit and vegetables in packaging unit volume terms, metal food cans remains the dominant pack type in the overall processed fruit and vegetables category. Although the packaging unit volumes of metal food cans continue to grow in processed fruit and vegetables, apart from a one-off small decline in 2021 following the year-earlier spike in demand, shelf stable fruit and vegetables does suffer from some negative perceptions from a health perspective, as shelf stable fruit is perceived as being high in sugar and preservatives, and the shelf stable format is generally seen as less nutritious than fresh fruit and vegetable products, or even their frozen counterparts.
With people becoming more aware of how their food choices can affect their bodies and their health, with many making efforts during the pandemic to make appropriate dietary changes, this created demand for a number of grocery items, including frozen fruit and frozen processed vegetables, which are perceived as being healthy and have a long shelf life. This is therefore expected to help drive growth in the packaging unit volumes of flexible plastic used in frozen fruit and frozen processed vegetables over the forecast period as people look to strike a balance between health and convenience.
The perception of frozen processed fruit and vegetables is gradually changing as consumers have started gaining appreciation of the fact that these products have the same amount of nutrients as fresh food and can be stored for longer without losing their freshness. This will continue to spur growth in the category over the forecast period.
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