Middle East Vegan Society

Seb Alex. Image: Middle East Vegan Society

Charity & Campaigns

V-Label Announces Partnership With Middle East Vegan Society

International vegan and vegetarian trademark V-Label has announced a partnership with the Middle East Vegan Society (MEVS) to promote the transparent labeling of vegan and vegetarian products in the region. The two organizations will work together to increase the adoption of V-Label certification among Middle Eastern producers and retailers. The collaboration will be active in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, and Kuwait. V-Label provides certification for both food and non-food items that meet its stringent criteria. Through the collaboration with MEVS, the organization will support the growing number of consumers in the region who are turning to veganism. “We are thrilled to partner with the Middle East Vegan Society to further our mission of promoting veganism worldwide,” said Martin Ranninger, co-director of V-Label. “By …


COP28 logo


Politics & Law

COP28 Set to Finally Address Food System for Climate Change, Catering Will Be “Predominantly” Plant-Based

COP28, the annual UN environmental summit taking place this year in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, will emphasize the imperative of a global dietary shift to combat climate change, representing the first time the event has addressed food system change as part of climate disaster mitigation. Notably, unlike previous COP events, the COP28 Presidency has also committed to predominantly plant-based catering along with emissions labelling on food. Additionally, it will introduce a dedicated Food Day and mark the debut of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, a coalition of NGOs will once again hold a Food4Climate Pavilion, marking the second time that COP has hosted the Pavilion, the only dedicated Pavilion to …


© Pri Bakes

Sweets & Snacks

Vegan & Gluten-Free Brand Pri Bakes Sees Huge Success in the Middle East

In 2021, British snack producer Pri Bakes began expanding internationally, and soon saw successful launches with two Middle Eastern retailers — Choithrams in Dubai and the Sultan Centre in Kuwait.  Two years on, the brand is set for further expansion across the region. This month, Pri Bakes will launch at Tamimi stores in Saudi Arabia, before arriving at Spinneys in Dubai this September. Another Saudi Arabian retailer, Danube, will follow at the end of the year. The expansion comes as interest in wellness grows rapidly in the Middle East, driven by a diverse population and growing concerns about obesity. Pri Bakes has seen success by using regionally familiar ingredients such as dates and nuts to create sweet snacks featuring just five ingredients; the products also …


Vegan Whole Cut Steak

©Chunk Foods/ The Butcher's Daughter

Market & Trends

Tradition Meets Innovation as Plant-Based Foods Surge in the Middle East

The Middle East is becoming a hotspot for plant-based food, with interest in meat and dairy alternatives growing at a fast pace, particularly since the pandemic. Sales of processed meat and dairy products are already relatively low in the region, and with obesity on the rise, plant-based foods are increasingly perceived as healthier options. Awareness of environmental and animal welfare issues is also growing, though it remains fairly low. As a result, meat and dairy alternatives are increasingly present on supermarket shelves, and many restaurants are offering vegan options. Currently, most plant-based products on offer are imported, but this is beginning to change. Plant-based eating is particularly prominent in Israel, which is believed to have one of the largest vegan populations (as a percentage) of …


Meat.the end Chickpea Burger

Image courtesy of Meat.the end


Meat.The End Launches “World’s First” Texturised Chickpea Protein Burger

Meat.The End, an Israeli food-tech company that produces texturised proteins as well as a range of meat analogs including nuggets and burgers that are offered at Burger King Israel, says it has developed the first-ever burger made from texturized chickpea protein.  Founded in 2020, the company focuses on industrial extrusion processes, and states it is already making its first steps in “revolutionizing” the mass production of alternative protein products. The founders report plans to establish what they claim is the only extrusion pilot plant in Israel, with an investment of over €3 million, this summer. “The food market of the future requires us to rethink protein sources. The collapse of climatic stability, and an ongoing rise in beef prices put enormous pressure on the global …


Emirates Palace vegan rooms

© Mandarin Oriental

Tourism & Travel

UAE: Five-Star Hotel Emirates Palace Launches Vegan Rooms at No Extra Cost

Luxury Abu Dhabi hotel Emirates Palace is now catering to vegan guests with six rooms free of animal products and materials. Whilst in the process of developing new food options for those following special diets, the hotel’s management realised that they did not have any guest rooms suitable for those following a vegan lifestyle. They decided to rectify this by offering rooms with leather-free furniture, wooden floors instead of wool carpets, cruelty-free bathroom amenities, and sustainable bedding. Guests can also enjoy a vegan minibar and in-room dining menu, along with a selection of fruit. The laundry detergent used to wash the sheets is cruelty-free, and key cards are wooden instead of plastic for increased sustainability. Flowers are used to keep the rooms smelling fresh, rather …


Float Foods OnlyEg

©Float Foods

Egg Alternatives

Float Foods’ Alt Egg to Launch in UAE Via Partnership With Bidfood Middle East

Singapore’s Float Foods has announced that its plant-based egg alternatives will be launching in the UAE via a partnership with the region’s largest food service distributor. Bidfood Middle East will offer four OnlyEg products — Shreds, Omelette, Tamagoyaki, and Patties — to UAE businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and airlines. The egg alternatives may also be available in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Oman. OnlyEg is said to provide a healthier alternative to chicken eggs, with 70% less saturated fat, no cholesterol, and 8 to 12 grams of plant-based protein per 100 grams. The egg alternatives are also free of artificial ingredients. “We at Bidfood Middle East are seeing increasing demand for plant-based options from our customers. Bringing OnlyEg to the Middle East market is …


crabcake PLNT

Image courtesy of PLNT

Company News

PLNT Showcases Vegan Crab Cakes That “Smell and Taste Like Real Thing” at Gulfood

Dutch plant-based meat and seafood producer PLNT, part of the Future Food Group, is showcasing a vegan crabcake product at Gulfood, the world’s largest food exhibition, which says this year the event is 30 times larger than the previous year with over 5,000 exhibitors. The crabcakes are based on wheat protein along with spices and enhancers such as nori for a seafood flavour and “smell and taste like the real thing”, according to Khaleej Times. Plant meat born from meat Future Food Group debuted PLNT back in 2020, from parent company Jan Zandbergen Group which originated as a traditional butcher in the 1950s. Speaking at the time of the launch, Jos Havekotte, Innovation Manager at Future Food Group, commented: “Meat eaters are our target group. …


Meala FoodTech

© Meala

Investments & Acquisitions

Meala FoodTech Raises $1.9M for Multifunctional Alt Meat Proteins

Israel’s Meala FoodTech has raised $1.9 million in pre-seed funding to further develop its multifunctional protein platform. The startup is working to replace ingredients commonly used in plant-based meats, such as methylcellulose, with clean-label alternatives. The aim is for alt meats to have a short list of components that can easily be recognised by consumers. To achieve this, Meala has developed multi-functional proteins that improve texture while also acting as binding and gelling agents. The platform works with several types of meat alternatives, including burgers, sausages, and nuggets. Proteins for use in egg and fish alternatives are also under development. The pre-seed funding round was led by The Kitchen FoodTech Hub and DSM Venturing, with participation from Milk & Honey Ventures. Meala will use the …


believer meats' cultivated chicken dish


Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Groundbreaking Findings From BELIEVER Meats “Break That Big Wall of No” For Cultivated Chicken

A new study led by BELIEVER Meats as published in Nature Foods unveils a comprehensive, cost-efficient GMO-free production method for cultivated chicken. According to BELIEVER Meats, in the study conducted by its founder and CTO Professor Yaakov Nahmias, researchers have found answers to some of the industry’s challenges regarding cost-efficiency and transparency in cultivated chicken production. “These findings break that ‘big wall of no’ described by Paul Wood and David Humbrid in last year’s The Counter article that challenged the feasibility of lab-grown meat,” BELIEVER Meats states. The production of non-GMO immortal cell lines, new standards for transparency in the field According to the cultivated meat company, the study shows that producing non-tumorigenic cell lines without genetic engineering and long-term stability is possible. BELIEVER Meats says researchers …


Better Plate


Startups, Accelerators & Incubators

Startups Invited to Apply for Middle East’s Only Alt Protein Accelerator Better Plate

Israel’s Modern Agriculture Foundation (MAF) has opened applications for the second cohort of Better Plate, an alternative protein track within the MassChallenge Israel accelerator program. MAF launched Better Plate last year, as there were no local accelerators catering to alt protein startups. The program aims to connect startups to experts and industry leaders, along with introducing them to technologies that could help them overcome any challenges they may be facing. The 2021 cohort was highly successful, with two of the five participants chosen to join MassChallenge Israel’s roadshow to Boston and New York. Out of 42 MassChallenge participants across six tracks, just ten startups were chosen for the roadshow, meaning that the Better Plate cohort was significantly overrepresented. Supporting the alt protein industry MAF describes …



The Novella team. © Novella

Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Novella Uses Cultivation to Produce Botanical Ingredients Without the Plant

Israeli nutri-tech startup Novella has developed a platform to produce nutritious botanical ingredients without the need to grow the entire plant. The platform works by screening plant tissues to determine those with the highest concentrations of active ingredients, before using these tissues to form a cell culture that can be amplified in bioreactors. The result is a powdered product made of whole-cell plant tissues with an increased concentration of active ingredients. The cells are encased in a natural protective shell that prevents oxidation and assures bioavailability. Novella’s proprietary technology addresses the growing demand for nutraceuticals, while overcoming issues such as supply chain disruption, political instability, and climate fluctuations. It eliminates lengthy cultivation processes, the use of large amounts of agricultural land, and complex extraction processes …


jackfruit pepperoni pizza

© Jack & Bry/Pizza Express

Food Service

Jack & Bry’s Jackfruit Pepperoni Goes International With Pizza Express UAE Launch

Jack & Bry, a UK producer of jackfruit-based meat alternatives, has launched its flagship jackfruit pepperoni at Pizza Express in the United Arab Emirates. The pepperoni, which is already used on Pizza Express UK’s Vegan American Hot Pizza, will appear on the American Jack Pizza in the UAE. “There are major opportunities for restaurants to tailor their offering towards flexitarians seeking meat-free alternatives and we’re delighted to help Pizza Express meet this demand,” said Chris Owen, Jack & Bry’s head of marketing. “Our jackfruit pepperoni has our signature meaty texture and flavour — a must-have ingredient for pizzas, one of the most popular dishes in the world!” New products and listings A year ago, Jack & Bry launched a range of products at Ocado, including …


Wilk team


Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Israel’s Wilk Unveils “World’s First” Hybrid Yogurt Made With Cultivated Milk Fat

Israeli bio-foodtech company Wilk has developed what it claims is the first ever hybrid yogurt containing cultivated milk fats. The yogurt is said to have the same taste, texture, and nutritional profile as dairy yogurt. According to Wilk, milk fats significantly impact the properties of dairy products, meaning that cultivated fat could revolutionise the development of animal-free alternatives. Wilk says the new yogurt will serve as a concept product, helping to validate the company’s technology and future capabilities. It will also support Wilk’s efforts to develop cultivated human breast milk fat for use in infant formula, potentially replacing the vegetable fats currently used. Coco-Cola funding Last year, Wilk secured $2 million in funding from Coca-Cola Israel to accelerate the development of its cultivated milk components. …


Neat Burger

© Neat Burger

Fast Food

Neat Burger to Expand into Dubai and Italy, With Eventual Retail Launch Planned

As reported by FoodNavigator, plant-based QSR chain Neat Burger is set to expand into new markets following its successful launch in the US. Co-founded by Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, Neat Burger currently has eight locations in London and one in New York. The UK-headquartered chain will open its first Dubai location in November, and has also revealed plans to expand into Italy in the near future. Neat Burger says it will also eventually launch its products for retail, after first building up a customer base via its restaurants. The company cites other brands that have successfully made the transition, such as Pizza Express and Nando’s. Global expansion Neat Burger first announced plans to expand globally back in 2020, when it had just three restaurants. …


New Food Invest 2023

© ProVeg International

Fairs & Events

New Food Invest 2022 Takes Place Next Week

A host of game-changing speakers are lined up to present at the New Food Invest 2022 conference, co-hosted by Beyond Animal and ProVeg International, which takes place online on Thursday, 27 October. Focusing on Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the event will bring together a plethora of alt protein and cell-ag companies, startups, investors and VC firms, including the following speakers, who will address corporate investment in alt proteins, and whether the public is ready for cultivated meat, amongst other topics. Dwayne Holmes, Director, Responsible Research & Innovation, New Harvest Ludovic Reysset, Head of Plant-Based Platform, Sonae Claire Smith, Founder, Beyond Animal, Beyond Investing Professor Nick Lin-Hi, University of Vechta Antii Savilaasko, Partner and Head of Research, Impact Cubed Malte Clausen, Partner and Associate …


bags of plant-based chocolate NXT

© Callebaut

Products & Launches

Callebaut’s Plant-Based Chocolate NXT for Chefs and Artisans Arrives in Saudi Arabia

Callebaut, the Belgian gourmet chocolate division of The Barry Callebaut Group, recently launched its plant-based chocolate ‘Callebaut NXT’ in Saudi Arabia. NXT is a 100% plant-based, dark and ‘milk’ chocolate line specially curated for chefs and artisans. According to research by Barry Callebaut, plant-based chocolate is showing a rapid growth in interest, especially among young people. Across the Middle East, plant-based food demand is rising, including desserts which have tremendous importance in the food culture. Callebaut’s NXT has reinvented Belgian gourmet chocolate to make vegan, plant-based, allergen-free, and planet-friendly desserts and chocolates made worldwide. NXT chocolate creations in Riyadh As part of its market launch strategy in Saudi Arabia, Callebaut held an event at the Marriot Hotel in Riyadh to demonstrate NXT’s wide range of possibilities. …


Plant-rich food at COP27

Image: Unsplash / Edgar Castrejon

Sustainability / Environment

160 NGOs Urge Egypt to Serve Plant-Rich Food at COP27

Food awareness organisations ProVeg International and 50by40 are leading a group of 160 NGOs which is calling for Egypt to serve plant-rich food at COP27. The NGOs have sent a joint letter to the Egyptian COP27 steering group suggesting that delegates attending the ten-day climate conference should be served plant-based meals throughout. They emphasise that Egyptian cuisine would be ideally suited because it is rich in plant foods. “In a time of climate crisis and growing hunger, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, it is a moral imperative to serve food that has the least climate footprint and allows for global equitable food distribution,” said Lasse Bruun, CEO of 50by40. Food pavilions at COP27 For the first time ever, this year’s COP summit will feature …


Cultivated scallops

© Mermade Seafoods

Investments & Acquisitions

Israel’s Mermade Raises $3.3M for Cultivated Scallops

Israel’s Mermade has closed an oversubscribed seed funding round, with investors including OurCrowd, Fall Line, and Sake Bosch. Mermade is a startup developing what it claims are the world’s first cultivated scallops. What sets the company apart is that it is using aquaponics, a circular process that allows it to cut costs and improve sustainability compared to other cultivated meat and seafood producers. The technology uses algae to recycle spent growth medium, a byproduct of the cell cultivation process. Mermade intends to use the funding to hire stem cell and algae researchers, with the goal of producing its scallops on a laboratory scale by 2023. The startup is one of many alt-seafood producers to find success with investors in 2022 — figures show that the …


emirates' inflight vegan option experience

© Emirates

Tourism & Travel

Emirates Becomes Latest Airline to Add Vegan Options Following $2Bn Revamp

Middle Eastern airline Emirates has added a vegan menu for first-class customers as part of a US$2 billion investment to enhance its inflight customer experience and offer a variety of service improvements. “Explore new flavours with our selection of inventive vegan dishes, whether it’s a full three-course meal or a movie snack. Enjoy dishes like our zucchini tart, jackfruit biryani or vegan mapo tofu. And you can look forward to delectable vegan desserts like our chocolate truffle cake with roasted hazelnuts. Look out for the vegan icon on our menus,” states the Emirates website. Emirates follows Alaska Air’s recent announcement from just last month, and United Air’s collaboration with Impossible Foods this June, in a list of airlines beginning to realise that vegans too, need …