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High prices make healthy foods luxury many can’t afford in Kuwait

By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: People recently have understood the importance of changing their eating habits by choosing a healthy option when they eat at restaurants or when they go grocery shopping. But this is easier said than done due to the high prices of “healthy food”. The terms healthy, organic or diet have become a commercial means for some companies striving to attract people’s attention to buy their products at high prices, claiming they use fresh or healthier ingredients.

Kuwait Times spoke to some people about the prices of healthy foods and the amount they spend monthly to eat healthily. “Healthy foods are overpriced, while companies justify this due to the calculated calories and organic ingredients. The small portions of the meals are not enough for one person. We can notice the big price difference between healthy and unhealthy food,” Mai Kinawi said.

“I recently started doubting the nutritional information written on the products after I used them during my weight loss journey, as they did not give me the result I was looking for compared to homemade healthy food,” she said. “I still spend around KD 150 to KD 200 per month on healthy groceries for snacks and ingredients. Sometimes when I want to buy snacks, I can pay KD 1.5 for one protein bar. This it is too high, especially since it is not the only thing we buy during the day,” Kinawi added.

While fast-food restaurants are rushing to attract customers to buy their food, the prices for unhealthy options are much lower, which encourages people to focus on buying them at the better price. Recently, a fast-food restaurant offered customers a meal for 250 fils, which consists of two burgers saturated with fat, while another place offered 10 croissants for KD 1. Offers continue to be more tempting to eat and save money, not to mention the temptations in unhealthy kids’ meals that contain toys, books and online games for only 950 fils to KD 1.250 per meal.

Dr Mohammad Al-Hayek

Expensive ingredients

Khloud Mahmoud, who spends KD 100 to KD 150 per month on healthier options, argued basic ingredients for healthy food are expensive, which automatically affects the final price. Nadeen Mahmoud said it is reasonable for prices for healthy food to be higher than regular food due to their better quality, stressing that the prices shouldn’t be more 10 to 20 percent higher than regular products, agreeing with others that healthy food is overpriced.

Regarding the reason people are tempted to eat unhealthy food, Dr Mohammad Al-Hayek, a nutritionist, told Kuwait Times “Unhealthy food is plentifully available and easy to get. The main idea of healthy food is based on the way it is cooked. Restaurants use preservatives in their food despite their harmful effects, which helps in reducing prices and preserving the food for a longer period of time, which is unhealthy but cheaper.”

Hayek added: “Healthy food has become a marketing and commercial ploy for companies, even if the food is unhealthy. Some companies took advantage and doubled prices to earn more profits. For example, when it’s written on a milk bottle that it is gluten-free, some companies are marketing the idea that is healthier to drink this milk than the regular one, so the price is higher. In fact, the price is supposed to be lower due to the separation of protein, which will remove the actual benefit of the milk.” Hayek bemoaned that prices of healthy foods are very high compared to their nutritional value. “The idea of healthy food has turned into a commercial tactic for many companies.”

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