The UAE-based halal food giant has made its first foray into the vegan market with a plant-based burger based on sunflower protein
UAE-based Al Islami Foods, one of the largest frozen food companies in the GCC, and the 2020 winner of a global iHalal award for Best Halal Food Brand, has just launched a plant-based burger with the same attributes and taste profile of a beef burger, using plant extracts and alternatives.
The company debuted its first plant-based product in response to the growing appetite for healthier vegan options and just in time for Veganuary, a global campaign that encourages people to try a plant-based diet in the new year.
The new burger patty is 100% plant-based and contains an impressive fibre content which is significantly higher than beef and chicken burgers. It is the first in a series of plant-based products that the company intends to roll out and will be available at major Coops in the UAE followed by other supermarkets and hypermarkets. There are also plans to partner with hotels, restaurants, and cafés and to export the product to other GCC markets.
“We are thrilled to launch our first plant-based product at Al Islami Foods. It took our team eight months to research, test and develop this product and we are proud to have created one of the healthiest and best-tasting vegan burgers in the market today,” said Shahid N. Khan, CEO at Al Islami Foods.
“Al Islami Foods has a long history spanning five decades of providing premium frozen food to consumers. Producing a plant-based product across our supply chain was the logical next step to bringing new value to this category”, he said.
Made from a combination of sunflower protein sourced from an organic non-GMO farm, vegetable protein from fava beans and peas, along with extracts from onion, pepper, garlic, celery root, carrot, and beetroot juice, the burger’s rich, juicy texture makes it perfect for BBQ grilling.
With no preservatives and having only 2.5g of saturated fat in a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, the burger is a great vegan alternative for those looking to swap out meat for a healthier high-protein option.
One of the selling points for Al Islami Foods’ plant-based burger is that it uses sunflower protein instead of soya protein as soy is known to be a food allergen.
Sunflower protein is rich in protein and fibre that is vital for gut health, and it provides all essential amino acids. Derived solely from sunflower seeds, the protein is safe for those who suffer from soy allergies. Additionally, it is free of trans-fat, MSG, and gluten.
The plant-based meat market was estimated at $18.6 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow at an annual rate of 6.7 percent through 2024, according to Euromonitor International. Of this global value, the Middle East accounted for $176.5 million in 2019, with annual growth projected to be 4-5 percent over the next four years.
Furthermore, the UAE’s per capita consumption of meat has reached around 73 kg per year, while that of Saudi Arabia is around 49 kg, far exceeding the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 18 kg.
As consumers in the region look for healthier food options that don’t compromise on taste or texture, the plant-based and vegan markets will only continue to grow.
“We believe that the plant-based food trend is here to stay as people explore different ways to diversify their protein intake and become more health conscious. We look forward to expanding our plant-based range over the coming months to meet the needs of our consumers”, said Zubair Ahmad, Head of Marketing at Al Islami Foods.