UAE halal foods company Al Islami has entered the vegan market with a plant-based burger based on sunflower protein.
The product is halal-certified for the UAE by the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology, Al Islami Foods CEO Shahid N. Khan told Salaam Gateway.
The company sees sales for its plant-based meats in the UAE as “promising”.
“Globally plant-based items are gaining popularity not only because of increasing number of vegans and vegetarian people but more and more health conscious people are converting to plant-based meals, as a healthy and sustainable alternative to meat,” said the CEO.
“Same is the case with UAE where we have diverse nationalities and ethnicities and plant-based meals will be the next big thing in the food business.”
The halal company is focusing first on UAE supermarkets, with plans to partner with the foodservice sectors including hotels, restaurants and cafes, it said in a statement on Dec 31. It also aims to roll out its vegan product to other GCC countries.
Most of the ingredients to manufacture the vegan burger are imported, with the sunflower protein sourced from an organic non-GMO farm, according to Khan. Other ingredients include fava beans and peas, along with extracts from onion, pepper, garlic, celery root, carrot, and beetroot juice.
The company manufactures its plant-based products at its facility in Al Hamriyah Free Zone in Sharjah.
There are different estimates of the size and growth of the world’s plant-based meat market. Euromonitor International estimates the sector’s size as $18.6 billion in 2019 with growth at an annual rate of 6.7% through 2024. Polaris Market Research said the sector was $11.1 billion big in 2019 with expected CAGR of 15.8% during 2020-2027. The size of the sector in the Middle East is small, around $176.5 million in 2019, Euromonitor told Salaam Gateway in August last year.
Manufacturers of plant-based foods do not typically rush for halal certification but will do so if it makes market sense. Brazilian start-up Fazenda Futuro told Salaam Gateway in December it was waiting for halal certification “to reach the more traditional Muslim consumer”. UAE-based Healthy Farm Food Innovation said in August its vegan products are halal-certified by ESMA to give assurance to consumers that its entire range of vegan products is halal.
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