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Which Products do Yemeni Consumers Prefer: Local or Foreign?

Sawt Al-Amal (Voice of Hope) – Afrah Ahmed

“Yemeni industry was expanding because factories multiplied and good local products increased until the conflict began. Yemeni industrial production has declined as a result of the conflict. Therefore, the infrastructure was destroyed, resulting in a significant decrease in production, because some factories stopped producing food commodities due to damage and being out of service.” This is what employees in Yemen’s industrial sector unanimously agreed on when asked about the status of Yemeni industries.

Despite the fact that the Yemeni industry has been impacted by the conflict, there are some local products that citizens prefer over other foreign products. In this field opinion poll, “Sawt Al-Amal” shed light on some opinions regarding the reasons behind citizens’ preference for local or foreign products.

Quality and Lack of Alternatives

According to Dr. Muhammad Al-Taweel, a journalism doctor at Sana’a University’s Faculty of Mass Communication, “Some citizens prefer national products over others when they are of high quality, competitive with foreign products, and characterized by a price at which they can buy them.”

Al-Taweel added that one of the reasons for the demand of the local product is the commodity’s availability in all sales ports and the ease of obtaining it, in addition to its widespread presence (the presence of more than one local variety ranging from 3 to 4 varieties of one industrial product). This, in return, provides citizens with consumer security, making them feel confident in this local product.

Dr. Muhammad believes that one of the main reasons that drive citizens to buy the local product is that this product is unique and has no external alternative, meaning that they are produced to cover the local market. This is due to the fact that it is banned from being imported by the government’s economic policy, which supports local industries, and provides them with local marketing routes that encourage citizens to buy the national product.

“The main reasons for the citizens’ preference of purchasing a foreign product over the local one are, the poor quality of this product compared to a foreign product, the high price or its closeness to the price of a foreign product of high quality and effectiveness. Furthermore, the local product does not cover the local market, so citizens replace it with the foreign product, which is abundantly available in the market,” he added.

Lack of Access to the Yemeni Market

“It is noticeable that Yemeni local products imitate many foreign products in a bad way, causing health and economic damage to the consumer, and this constitutes a major reason for citizens’ reluctance to buy these products,” Dr. Al-Taweel asserted.

Abdulaziz Ahmed, an English language teacher at a school in Al-Hodeidah, believes that determining a specific percentage or estimate of the Yemeni products that they prefer is impossible. The reason for this is that some people are unaware of other products because they did not reach the Yemeni market.

Stressing that if these products are sometimes available, they are expensive in comparison to the prices of Yemeni products. Therefore, they do not correspond to the individual’s income, because there are no other industries in Yemen, and the citizen is used to buying specific products.

Abdulaziz specified that the most preferred products in the Yemeni industries are the imported products of Hayel Saeed Anam companies, such as, oil, ghee, and foodstuffs.

Ashraf Al-Wasabi, a media graduate, talked about his preference for the Yemeni industrial product, saying, “Yemeni local industrial products are the closest to the citizen, because they are trustworthy and have a clear brand that have value in the market since ancient times, in addition to their affordable prices. Thus, our Yemeni products are often the first choice for every Yemeni individual.”

“After foreign products invaded the market and passed without supervision, and after Yemeni citizens saw how the local product could be the best and lowest-priced solution, many refrained from buying foreign products and resorted to buying Yemeni products, because they are of quality and have been monitored,” Al-Wasabi added.

Suitable for Citizens’ Purchasing Capacity

Ahmed Saad, a citizen from Al-Hodeidah, believes that the local product is suitable for all social classes, despite the fact that their income is limited due to their location in Al-Hodeidah. Therefore, they do not have a better choice than the local product. He described the local industrial products as good products, but they do not have a strong effect, so the human body benefits to some extent from them.

Another citizen from Aden – who preferred not to mention his name – said, “Yemeni products before the change of currencies were good, so residents could buy them because they are locally made, aiming to encouraging internal manufacturing. However, Yemeni industrial products have become very expensive because of the difference in the price of currencies in Aden, especially foodstuffs.” He hopes that the conflict in Yemen will stop, and the currency will return to its price.

Kamal Al-Shawish, a journalist, prefers to choose the Yemeni products and refrains from purchasing other products. This is due to the fact that the Yemeni product fulfills his needs, and his choice is also linked to a well-known trademark.

Al-Shawish added that the Yemeni citizen prefers the local product since he knows the source of the raw material for the product. For example, potatoes, the citizen knows that they are selected from the best potato farms in Yemen, so he trusts the product.

Different Points of Views

Ali Rashid, a lawyer, refrains from purchasing Yemeni industrial products and describes them as not as reliable and trustworthy. Thus, he and many of the citizens whose opinions were taken refrain from Yemeni products.

“We want to have national products, because they represent a strong tributary of the national economy, and we want to use and encourage them. However, the producers’ lack of honesty in not adhering to quality standards and safety rules, as well as failing to activate oversight from government agencies, prompts us to avoid them for the safety of ourselves and our families,” Rashid said.

Ahlam Ahmed, an employee in a banking sector, “The Yemeni industrial product is the main cause of poisoning my daughter, when I bought a product.” She stressed that food products should pass through manufacturing monitoring process.

Ahlam added that Yemeni products are not widely known, for many reasons, including, the lack of good advertisements promoting Yemeni products. “However, not all products are bad, there are products that I like since I came to Yemen from exile in 2001,” she added.

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