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Tue 12 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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MENOP exhibition helps to fuel organic boom

The Middle East Natural and Organic Produce Expo (MENOP) has been a catalyst for organic growth in the region according to MENOP event organisers Global Links.

The Middle East Natural and Organic Produce Expo (MENOP) has been a catalyst for organic growth in the region according to MENOP event organisers Global Links.

"Our region was relatively slow to adopt the worldwide movement to natural and organic products, but this has now changed beyond recognition," said Ashraf Sharaf, director, Global Links.

The exhibition staged in the Dubai World Trade Centre in December 2007 was 50% bigger than 2006 and received more than 4000 trade visitors, which demonstrates the growing interest in organic produce in the region according to Sharaf.

"Natural and organic products now represent a global market estimated at around AED 725 billion (US $200 billion) and the Middle East's proportional share is catching up rapidly," he said.

This movement is also boosted by governmental support, with the UAE's Ministry of Health and Ministry of Environment and Water affairs giving official endorsement to MENOP's achievements.

"The extent of the participation by international and local companies demonstrates the importance of this sector and the growth it is achieving," said Humeid Al Quttami, Minister of Health.

Although the UAE has several organic farms, the ministry sees an immediate need to have more natural and organic food available in the market at affordable prices.

"Locally and regionally, the business is still in its infancy but it is still growing rapidly in response to the intense consumer demand for natural and organic produce, and we strongly encourage this trend," Quttami said.

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