The products will be launched under its Healthy Farm brand and will first be available in the horeca or food service industry, which include hotels, restaurants, fast food, and casual dining.
Supermarket retail will begin in 2020. The burgers contain pea-protein, quinoa and kale, making it 30% higher in protein and 90% higher in fibre than traditional meat burgers.
First in the region
FoodNavigator-Asia understands from Jacek Plewa, the company’s general manager that there are currently no local non-chicken meat alternative burger in the market.
“International companies that have a presence in Middle East currently only sell non-beef alternatives. We believe we are the first and only to offer plant-based non-chicken alternatives in this region,” he said.
Future of food
The Healthy Farm current range of real chicken and nuggets infused with superfoods such as quinoa and kale are already available in supermarkets in UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.
Plewa said GFI had initially launched these products, but quickly realised “it was not enough.”
According to him, per capita consumption of meat in the UAE is 79kg per year. By 2050, the world’s population would have increased by 35%.
He explained that growing meat from animal sources like cow was a serious concern, “Beef requires 28 times more land, 11 times more water, compared to other food sources.”
At the rate this is going, “We would not have enough food for the future.”
We need to disrupt the meat industry, create a more sustainable alternative, to ensure a future ahead of us,” he added.
Plewa said many prevalent conditions and diseases in the Middle East region like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems were related to the diet. He thinks plant based nutrition is the way to go forward.
“Unless we change the way we eat, and the way we produce our food, there is not going to be enough food for everyone, people are going to be malnourished, and the impact on the planet will be bigger than we thought,” he stressed.
The process of producing plant-based food promotes animal welfare, is sustainable and significantly more environment friendly than in the case of animal-based products.
At the recent Future Food 2019 forum organised by the UAE Food & Beverage Manufacturers with the participation of Government officials, Plewa also said 40% of consumers in UAE were open to choosing meat alternatives for health, animal welfare, and environmental reasons.
“We know plant based is healthier by being cholesterol free, helps in heart function, less in fat and significantly higher in fiber thus reduce obesity, health benefits are unquestionable. People opt to go for plant protein food products not only to improve their health but also to reduce their carbon footprint,” he said.
“The process entails the use of 99% less water, 93% less land usage, 90% less greenhouse gases emission, 46% less energy significantly less than the traditional process. This is critical as less than 4% of what animals eat goes into meat and milk production. The rest is released as methane, a high-potent greenhouse gas,” said Plewa.
The company had also in 2018 launched a range of biscuits under Healthy Farm, with five variants.
Plewa said they are currently developing version 2.0 of the biscuits, which would be 85% lower in sugar and 75% lower in saturated fat compared to standard biscuits in the market.
GFI hopes to launch version 2.0 by Q2 2020 in the US, and are currently in discussion with major retailers.
In Asia, it is exploring the India and China market, although it is unlikely to enter next year. “We are looking to have presence in these countries within the next three to four years. We will launch biscuits first, followed by burgers as they are more complex,” he added.