A ‘buy local’ strategy is a key element in helping retailers reduce the environmental impact of transporting food products, a top executive of a leading hypermarket chain has said on the occasion of ‘National Product Week’, which concludes on Saturday.
Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International, lauded the recently-launched National Product Week, which was organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), in collaboration with Qatar Development Bank (QDB), saying that the event was the culmination of a long-term strategy of the Qatar government to localise products.
“There are two aspects to this. First, for every country in the world today, food security has become an important objective. People want to produce things locally for strategic and food security reasons.
“Second, we also recognise as retailers that globally the goal is towards buying local; this has become a huge trend. And people like to reduce what we call ‘food miles’, which is one of the ways to test the carbon footprint of transporting food and other things,” Althaf told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event.
Althaf said LuLu has been steadily increasing its local food products portfolio in the last five years according to the “firm strategy” of MoCI.
“We have identified key priority areas. It is necessary to localise some of our product lines, so we started with fresh produce, which was a major concern. I think today Qatar has got almost ‘80%’ self-sufficiency in fresh produce in its production lines. In dairy, Qatar is close to ‘100%’ self-sufficient,” Althaf explained.
He also said, “Going forward, we want to source and secure fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). So, in the last five years, there have been many initiatives; the Qatar government started giving initiatives to people and businesses to localise food production.
“We are very happy to partner with local firms because our business is about servicing customers and selling products. Our business is not logistics. We don’t want to transport food from far away countries.”
Althaf stressed that MoCI has implemented many matchmaking initiatives between retailers in Qatar and companies that are capable of producing locally, “according to our international standards.”
“As part of this matchmaking strategy, we have identified close to 50 products today, which are under the LuLu private label. These private labels follow LuLu standards but are produced entirely in Qatar.
“Every year, we are now trying to increase that number. There is a lot of interaction between us and the local manufacturing companies. We not only provide them with the orders but we also give them the necessary consumer data, consumer demand, trends, and the quality standards that we require,” he said.
He added: “LuLu Group is very proud to be associated with the National Product Week and we are giving special displays to locally-manufactured products. Biannually, we hold our own LuLu-Qatar national product week celebrations; we have partnerships with various other companies that are operating in Qatar. We wish this will continue, especially this coming Ramadan.
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