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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 …


Switch Foods Abu Dhabi

© Switch Foods

Products & Launches

Abu Dhabi-Based Switch Foods Launches Locally Produced Alt Meats Across the UAE

In May, UAE-based Switch Foods opened what was claimed to be Abu Dhabi’s first plant-based meat production facility in the Khalifa Economic Zones. Now, a range of meat alternatives produced at the facility — such as kebabs, soujuk, minced meat, and burger patties — have launched at retailers and food service outlets across the UAE. These include Carrefour, Spinneys, Organic Food Café, Grandiose, Geant, Union Coop, Sharjah Coop, Al Maya, and Abella. Additionally, the plant-based meats are available online from the platforms Talabat, Careem, Kibsons, and Noon. The vegan-friendly, halal-certified products are made from pea protein and are free of major allergens such as soy and gluten. They aim to provide alternatives to traditional Middle Eastern foods, along with more Western-style options. “A true pleasure” …


Plant-rich food at COP27

Image: Unsplash / Edgar Castrejon

Fairs & Events

Plant-Based Food to Be Served at COP28 Following Outreach by Youth Activists

The presidency of the COP28 climate summit has written to youth activists from the groups YOUNGO (Youth Climate Movement) and Food@COP to confirm that plant-based foods will be available at the event. It follows a letter sent by the groups with the help of ProVeg International, which called for at least three-quarters of the menu at COP28 to be plant-based. Additionally, the letter suggested that the food should be affordable, nutritious, culturally inclusive, sourced locally where possible, and feature clear emissions labeling. The response from the presidency confirms that the latter requests will be met, but there is currently no indication of what percentage of the food served will be plant-based. However, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber — the UAE COP28 President-Designate who signed the letter …


Switch Foods facility

© Switch Foods

Manufacturing & Technology

Switch Foods Opens “Abu Dhabi’s First” Plant-Based Meat Facility

UAE-based foodtech startup Switch Foods has opened what it claims is the first plant-based meat facility in Abu Dhabi, located in the Khalifa Economic Zones (KEZAD). Switch aims to offer meat alternatives that cater to local tastes, encouraging UAE citizens to make healthier and more sustainable choices under the motto “Switch for good”. The new 20,000-square-foot facility will produce a range of allergen-free plant-based products, including kabab, kafta, soujuk, minced meat, and burger patties. Ensuring a healthy and reliable food supply The site also features a laboratory, an innovation center, and offices, along with areas for cold storage, preparation, and logistics. It was inaugurated on April 26 in the presence of H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed AlMheiri, the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment. “The …


UAE's first alt meat facility opens

The opening ceremony for the new facility. © IFFCO

Manufacturing & Technology

“UAE’s First Alt Meat Facility” Begins Operations, Products to Launch at Major Supermarkets

Food manufacturing group IFFCO has begun operations at its new production plant, which is said to be the UAE’s first alt meat facility. Based at Dubai Industrial City, the facility will produce a range of meat alternatives under the brand name THRYVE. These will include options tailored to regional tastes — such as koftas, shawarmas, and shish tawooks — along with more Western-style offerings like burgers and nuggets. The meat alternatives are made from fava beans, using a technique described as state-of-the-art. Within a few weeks, THRYVE products will be available at supermarket chains Lulu and Carrefour UAE. While the UAE’s plant-based market is still small, THRYVE says its consumer research has found a positive response to the concept of alt meats. The brand hopes …


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. …


Year of Sustainability UAE

Image: Year of Sustainability on Instagram

Sustainability / Environment

UAE to Promote Plant-Based Diets as Part of “Year of Sustainability”

As the UAE prepares to host the COP28 climate summit later this year, the country has declared 2023 the “Year of Sustainability”. As part of the nationwide campaign, citizens will be encouraged to adopt plant-based diets, along with wasting less food and eating appropriately-sized portions. Various initiatives will be launched to promote these choices, which could improve health outcomes as well as sustainability. Under the slogan “Today for Tomorrow”, the public will also be encouraged to make other sustainable lifestyle changes, including avoiding fast fashion and reducing water use. “Formidable” plant-based growth Interest in plant-based foods is growing rapidly in the UAE, with a report last year predicting that the country’s market for meat alternatives would grow with a “formidable CAGR” through to 2028. Last …


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 …


thryve's promotional panflet showing plant-based meat with dip sauce on the side

© IFFCO Group

Products & Launches

IFFCO Launches “GCC’s First 100% Plant-Based Meat Venture” in UAE

IFFCO Group has announced the launch of THRYVE, claimed to be the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC’s) first 100% plant-based meat venture. IFFCO is an international UAE-based group that manufactures and markets FMCG brands such as Noor, Rahma, Al Baker, Hayat, and Savannah. The company plans to commission its first plant-based meat factory by early 2023, accelerating the shift towards sustainable and healthy food sources. Investing in the future THRYVE will be an innovative plant-based food hub that aims to develop, manufacture, and market a sustainable, healthy plant-based meat and alternative foods portfolio. The venture plans to blend new food research and technology with local cuisine and deep-rooted traditions to create products tailored to the region’s demand for sustainable foods. “Our plant-based venture launch is guided …


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. …


change foods sneak peak

© Change Foods

Manufacturing & Technology

Change Foods Reveals Plans For Animal-Free Casein Facility in Abu Dhabi

US-Australian alt dairy company Change Foods has announced plans to open a manufacturing facility for the production of animal-free casein in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company reveals it has signed an agreement with Kezad Group to design the commercial plant with government support under the NextGen FDI initiative. David Bucca, Change Foods’ founder and CEO, commented: “We are honoured to be a part of the UAE’s NextGen FDI initiative and grateful for the strategic partnership with Kezad Group.”  “NextGen FDI is prioritizing the successful scaling of new sustainable food technologies like ours that offer significant environmental and economic development benefits. The strategic alignment behind our company’s vision to help transition the world to more sustainable food systems by scaling new food production …



© Leukeather

Leather Alternatives

Leukeather: Animal-Free Exotic Leather Made From Upcycled River Tamarind Pods

Leukeather is a vegan alternative to exotic leather, developed by UAE-based Egyptian architect Nuhayr Zein. The material is made from the dried pods of Leucaena, also known as river tamarind. Leucaena is a tree native to northern Central America and southern Mexico. It is fast-growing, requires little water, and is already present on many farms. To make the leather, farmers gather dried pods and supply them to Leukeather. The company then uses biotechnology to improve the suppleness and flexibility of the pods, creating a material that is naturally waterproof and plastic-free. Leukeather is said to be the only vegan leather that does not require embossing to obtain a leather-like texture, as the Leucaena pods give it a natural pattern. Exotic vegan leather A huge variety …


make it plant campaign logo


Company News

Upfield’s Global #makeitplant Campaign Will Educate & Encourage Chefs to Focus on Plant-Based

Upfield is to announce the launch of its #makeitplant campaign, at this year’s Worldchefs Congress & Expo 2022 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from May 30 to June 2. Along with its portfolio brand Violife, Upfield intends to encourage and support the hospitality industry with the increasing demand for plant-based food with the new campaign. The #makeitplant campaign aims to ensure consumers have tasty and nutritious food options inside and outside the home, as well as to support and encourage chefs to focus on sustainable and dairy-free alternatives. As part of the campaign, Upfield will provide chefs with an “expansive” range of plant-based options for their menus and there will be dedication for junior and aspiring head chefs on the importance of using …


Meat processor Tanmiah considers launching plant-based options

© Tanmiah Food Company

Company News

Saudi Meat Processor Tanmiah Considers Move Into Alt-Meat Sector as Beef Sales Fall

Meat processor Tanmiah Food Company, which is based in Saudi Arabia, has said it is considering developing plant-based meat alternatives. If the plan goes ahead, the alt-meat products will likely be launched in the UAE, where demand for healthier and more sustainable options is growing. Bahrain and Qatar are also potential markets. Tanmiah told Gulf News that while chicken sales remain high, beef sales are falling, prompting a search for alternatives. However, plant-based products are still new territory even in the UAE, and demand is currently somewhat limited. For this reason, Tanmiah is not yet sure whether it will enter the market. The company says it will make a decision by the end of the year. Plant-based in the UAE The UAE’s plant-based market may …


veganologie launches accessories with recycled materials

© Veganologie

Fashion, Design & Beauty

Veganologie Launches Accessories Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles

Dubai-based Veganologie launches accessories such as handbags and wallets, all made from recycled materials. When Angana Maheshwari began looking for a handbag that was sustainable, attractive, reasonably priced, and well-made, she couldn’t find anything that met her specifications — so she decided to design some. With time on her hands over lockdown, Maheshwari developed vegan bags, wallets, and credit card cases. The PU leather and vegan suede interior of the products are made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, while any hardware is made of fully recyclable zinc alloy. All packaging is also made from 100% recycled materials. Veganologie’s crossbody bags each use 11 plastic bottles, while the wallets are made from four bottles and the cardholders from two. The production process involves melting the bottles …


HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, founder and CEO, KBW Ventures

HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud © KBW Ventures


Vegconomist in Conversation With Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed

HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of KBW Ventures and the Founding Chairman of KBW Investments, which has funded extensively in the area of alternative proteins through a portfolio that includes several vegconomist favourites such as Rebellyous Foods, Turtle Tree Labs, Matthew Kenney, BlueNalu, Memphis Meats, Moku Foods, and Bond Pet Foods