Middle East plant-based push: Upfield eyes expansion with raft of dairy alternatives

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Flora butter, one of the firm's plant-based products to launch in retail in Middle East ©Upfield
Flora butter, one of the firm's plant-based products to launch in retail in Middle East ©Upfield

Related tags: Middle east, Upfield, plant-based, Dairy alternatives

Dutch plant-based brand Upfield is expanding in the Middle East with its alternatives to traditional dairy.

The company is launching a plant-based butter (Flora), cream (Flora), and olive oil (Altis). The dairy alternatives are made from fababean, also known as broad beans.

The plan is to enter all major supermarket chains across Middle East, including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Jordan and Lebanon. The company is also expanding its distribution into nearby North Africa, such as Morocco.

Growing demands

This is on the back of growing demand from consumers for plant-based products in the Gulf region.

In an interview with FoodNavigator-Asia​, Reinier Weerman, Upfield’s general manager MENA said: “People are increasingly health and climate conscious, and they know plant-based products are much healthier, and better for the planet. This leads to a demand for alternatives for dairy for example​.”

According to Weerman, the dairy market in UAE is worth about AED2.6bn (USD707m). The firm is hoping to achieve “a significant market share with our plant-based dairy alternatives​.”

He told us more than 40% of the population in the Middle East is open to plant-based foods, or have already been using plant-based foods, which is a vast difference compared to 10 years ago.

Globally, the plant-based food market is valued between USD 5 to 7 billion, mostly contributed by Europe and US.

Adoption by consumers (in these regions) for plant-based foods has already reached the tipping point​,” Weerman expressed.

Better butter?

He added that Upfield’s products had been through consumer testing in the UAE and Saudi Arabi prior to launching in retail.

We found that our plant-based butter is out-performing dairy butter. It is also more healthy, and better for the planet, compared to dairy​.”

The new Flora Plant cream will be launched in 1L Tetra Paks.

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