Studies & Numbers

Report Highlights Role of Alternative Proteins in Enhancing Food Security in the UAE

The Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) has released a report outlining how alternative proteins could enhance food security in the UAE.

Estimates cited in the report suggest that 374 million tonnes of meat will be needed to meet global demand by 2030, as incomes rise and the population continues to grow. The authors discuss the role of three categories — plant-based meat, precision fermentation-derived products, and cultivated meat — in addressing this demand.

Plant-based meat

According to the report, the market share of the plant-based meat sector has significantly increased and is expected to exhibit a compound annual growth rate of 20.6% globally by 2030. Some predictions estimate that the plant-based meat market in the MENA region will reach around $380 million in the next few years.

Two plant-based meat manufacturers began production in the UAE last year — Switch Foods and IFFCO. While the trend toward plant-based meat has shown signs of slowing over the past year, the report attributes this to the Gartner Hype Cycle, and predicts that more refined technologies are on the horizon.

© IFFCO

Precision fermentation

The report finds that 57% of companies producing fermentation-derived alternative proteins were founded within the past three years, while all-time investment in the sector is estimated at around $5 billion between 2016 and 2022.

The UAE’s first precision fermentation manufacturing plant is currently being set up in Abu Dhabi by US company Change Foods, which has formed an agreement with KEZAD Group (Khalifa Economic Zones Abu Dhabi). The facility will have a capacity of 1.2 million liters, and will reportedly produce enough animal-free dairy to replace the output of more than 10,000 cows by 2027.

Cultivated meat

Cultivated meat production is projected to reach 2.1 million metric tonnes by 2030, with the market value reaching US$25 billion; this would account for around 0.56% of global meat demand. Since 2016, cultivated meat companies have raised $2.8 billion.

Islamic scholars have declared that cultivated meat can be considered halal under certain conditions, an important factor in the UAE market. However, the report notes that it is currently unclear whether the industry will become economically viable.

© Aleph Farms

Ensuring sustainable growth

Finally, the report gives recommendations to promote sustainable growth within the sector. This includes increasing funding for the large-scale production of alternative proteins using sustainable technologies. Additionally, the authors suggest engaging with consumers to ensure products are culturally appropriate and meet the needs of communities.

Appropriate legislation and guidelines should also be introduced to govern the commercialization process and ensure products meet health and safety standards.

“The aim of launching this knowledge report is to initiate effective dialogues and discussions about the importance of developing and utilizing innovative technologies in food production and regulation,” said Abdulaziz Al Jaziri, Deputy CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation. “This will help leverage promising opportunities in this sector and address its challenges, such as environmental impact and carbon footprint. It supports resource efficiency and establishes sustainability practices within future foods production, in line with the UAE’s national food security strategies.”

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