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Plant-based market trends in World and GCC

17 July 2021 - By Elie Merhy

The year kicked off with people all over the world making new resolutions like eating and living healthy. As people renew their discipline by living a healthy lifestyle, alternative protein sources are becoming more adopted as food options. Plant forward versions of meats are more available now than ever in the Middle East. There's a new trend of investors looking for more opportunities in the sector of food tech to satisfy the rising demand of customers for alternative protein. 

Spinneys and Waitrose, a new supermarket chain and a subsidiary of vegan brand Vbites, has spread its reach to several Middle Eastern countries including the UAE, Pakistan, and Qatar. Furthermore, Al Islami, a leading frozen food producer in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and Halal food company based in the UAE, recently upgraded their menu with the inclusion of a 'plant-based burger'. Prepared from a protein blend that includes pea, fava, and sunflower, this innovative vegan burger was introduced by the organization to meet the expectations of regular meat-eaters and they plan to launch other food items like this.

Dubai is one of the most popularly visited countries in the Gulf region and several restaurants there provide vegan menus for their customers. Some examples of these diners include Common Grounds, Brunch and Cake, Good Burger, Marks and Spencer, and Maiz Tacos. Even domestic food brands are tapping into the plant-based trend in the GCC area. Last year, a frozen food company known as Healthy Farm began selling vegan meatballs, chunks, kebabs, and burgers.

A couple of years back, some popular food chains like McDonald's, KFC, and Burger King jumped on the trend to increase their customer base. The previous year also witnessed a handful of restaurants and fast food brands adding meat alternatives to their menus for their vegan customers. The trend of plant-based meals is interesting to poke further into, and that's all this write-up is aimed at. 

How the Plant-based Market has Grown Popular

As the world transcends Boomers generation to Gen Z, plant-based eating is becoming more established as a lifestyle. Asides from margarine, plant-forward meals are not typically the first choice for Boomers. On average, Boomers show only about 11% interest in lean meals. On the other hand, you'd likely find a Gen Xer eating a plant-based meal at least once a week. Millennials have shown the tendency for meat alternative dining for 30% of their meals. 


However, Gen Z has the highest interest in meat-free meals and even launched several campaigns to promote the adoption of 'planternatives'. No other generation has been as enthusiastic about food trends and technological advances as Gen Z. They usually don't care about the cost of these options whether it's the demand for shrimp or burgers, brats or bacon, cheese or milk.

Image by Louis Hansel

To Gen Z, plant-based eating is more than a trend and it has become adopted as the norm. The meat-free lifestyle sounds like something worth trying in the future to about 35% of them while 79% of them are already practicing plant-based dining at least twice per week. It's not entirely surprising that Gen Z is the lowest consuming generation yet as a result of their enthusiasm for plant-based trends combined with their inclinations to snack-dining. Several household names have incorporated meatless meals into their menus in reaction to these trends. Valued at $5billion, the plant-based market is expected to rise by 15% over the couple of years. 


There's been professional inquiries made into alternative methods of feeding Gen Z. One of such research looked into the deploying of plant-based dining for students and its benefit were profound. 

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