Over the past 5 years, Organic foods in Riyadh have been increasingly occupying their place in the market. The demand has been heard and many companies are ready to meet the need for healthy wholesome food.
When I first moved to Riyadh 9 years ago, there were only 3 stores that carried organic foods, the two on Oruba that carry imported, packaged, and processed foods, Organic Food Center and Nutrition Organic.
Watania carries fresh local food and there are10 locations in Riyadh so you are bound to have one near you.
The pink Tarha have a fantastic article on Nutrition Organic with pictures of all their products that can be found here http://www.thepinktarha.com/ksa/2014/09/all-organic-nutrition-store.html. They can also be found in your local grocery stores, LuLu, Carrefour, Danube and Tamimi and also in many specialty shops ready to jump on this new business opportunity. Specialty stores like Natureland carry only organic food and specialty items including cleaning supplies, and offers online ordering and free delivery for orders over 500 SAR.
Organic restaurants are also hitting the Riyadh scene with trendy new cafes and even pizzeria’s making their mark. Wellness kitchen offers delivery and home service with specific diet plans to help you lose weight with nutritious organic foods. Some calorie generous organic yums can be found at Oregano Pizzeria, Dukan burgers, and Elevation Burger.
One company that resembles the Wholefoods theme in the states, Abazeer with two stores in Jeddah and one in Khobar, will soon open there doors in Riyadh. The health conscious will definitely find their fix in Abazeer with the vast selection of organic grains, pastas, fruits, vegetables, gluten free products and more, all in one place.
This store is connecting all the channels from operating organic farms and delivery to the marketplace. They are also the sole distributor for many of your favorite organic brands. Keep your eyes and ears open for their Grand Opening, it will definitely be worth the wait.
The biggest challenge I have is finding organic, anti-biotic free, grass fed meat, but hopefully this will be a niche in the market that will be filled soon.
For skincare products you might try Basharacare, an online store here in Riyadh that offers delivery.
The Saturday Market is also a nice option with local meat, fruits and vegetables. Not all of the food is organic, but it is local, leaving less of a carbon footprint on the planet. There are a couple of delivery services for farm fresh fruits and vegetables. Nidal Farms offers farm fresh vegetables and some packaged goods for delivery every Friday. You can contact them for further details at 0539411187.
For the food to be labeled Organic it must be grown in clean soil and have no genetic modifications. Synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based or sewage sludge-based fertilizers cannot be used on the plants or on the food the animals eat. Organic livestock must be given organic feed and have access to the outdoors. They may not be given antibiotics to prevent illness, growth hormones, or animal byproducts. It is important to be able to actually visit the farm to see the circumstances in which the food is grown or where the animals are actually being kept to ensure that the care and handling of the food and/or animal is actually organic and the meat processing hygienic.
According to the Saudi Department of Agriculture (DOA) government site, as of 2012, the DOA has certified 78 organic farms with 280 farmers in the application process. Animal husbandry has still not set it’s stage yet in the marketplace due to the limited availability of organic fodder, thus it’s currently restricted to a small number of farms and animals.
The four certified farms as of 2012 in Riyadh include:
Al Fawaz Farm, producing tomatoes, carrots, eggplants,
Al Shahwan for Organic Farming, producing tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, eggplants, dates, additional variety of 36 vegetables, Sheep
Al Sheha, producing dates, vegetables, fruits, alfalfa, goats
Al Janadriyha, producing dates, vegetables (e.g. jews mallow, red radish, pumpkin, beans, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower)
Most of the fresh organic food in Riyadh is sold from the farm gate or directly to your compound or home directly like Dr. Al Shahwan for Organic Farming and Nidal Farms. The processing side of organic business is still in the early stages. Watania, Al Khaldediah, and Abazeer are the three local companies that are starting to tackle this aspect of organic farming to combine production, processing and trade. From 2012, there were four international certification organizations operating in Saudi Arabia: two from Germany (BCS and CERES), one from France (ECOCERT), and one from Egypt (COAE). The companies who have entered the certification market most recently are TAWTHIQ and OneCert. TAWTHIQ is the first Saudi organic certification body.
For those interested in learning more about certified organic foods within Saudi Arabia and the progress and development that has taken place since the initiation of the Organic Farming project in 2005, please check out their PDF at http://www.moa.gov.sa/files/org/KSA-Studiefor_English.pdf