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Food innovation

Middle East’s first fully plant-based meat factory opens in Dubai

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2 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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IFFCO – one of the UAE’s largest food producers – has opened the Middle East’s first 100% plant-based meat factory in Dubai.

Its THRYVE factory, situated in the Dubai Industrial City region, aims to help the Middle East develop a healthier and more sustainable food system.

The site will be used to create nutritious meat alternatives from fava beans under the THRYVE brand. The plant-based products will be inspired by regional cuisine, featuring meat-free shish tawooks, koftas, and shawarmas, to ensure they suit the tastes of the local population.

Some of the products are expected to be available in several Dubai-based supermarket chains including Lulu and Carrefour UAE within the next few weeks, according to IFFCO.

The company says its new factory will cater to 30% of the population in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, as well as the United Arab Emirates.

Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said in a statement: “The new 100% plant-based meat factory supports the UAE’s Food Security Strategy and our mandate to mitigate the impact of climate change. The opening of this innovative new facility also supports our efforts to protect the country’s ecosystems and enhance its food and water security and diversify our food sources.”

The Climate Change Minister also explained that such a development will help the UAE in its goal to rank first in the Global Food Security Index by 2051.

Saud Abu Alshawareb, Executive Vice President, Industrial Leasing, Dubai Industrial City (DIC), also added: “DIC is an ideal location for initiatives like the IFFCO Group’s plant-based meat factory that underscore the importance of food security. The Dubai Industrial City is home to a growing number of Dubai-based food manufacturers who are leading the way in introducing innovative food products. This new enterprise adds value to the industry while strengthening our reputation as facilitators of a self-reliant food programme.”

Developing a sustainable food system is of growing importance to the region, as it tries to move away from its high dependence on imported goods. In April 2022, a $2M prize was launched for international start-ups developing sustainable solutions in the agri-tech sector, to help them scale their innovative business models within the UAE. The nation also launched a food rescue initiative last year to reduce its high levels of food waste.

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