Healthy Innovation, an EFKO shareholder ESG project, has made the first deliveries of plant-based meat alternatives to retailers in the United Arab Emirates. The deliveries were made to 45 stores of major local retailers Union Coop and Aswaaq, EFKO Executive Director Sergey Ivanov said during a discussion at Innoprom-2022 held under the title “INNOFOOD: Investment in Food Tech in the New Normal”.
Plant-based meat in UAE stores comes in three items: Hi! burger patties, minced meat, and meatballs. Sales will be piloted from July to September, with the decision to expand the geography and product range hinging on the results.
Overall, the opening of the headquarters of the EFKO venture fund Fuel For Growth in Dubai and heightened interaction with local investors, entrepreneurs and consumers have helped EFKO see a new approach to plant-based alternatives.
“In Russia, we have to explain why plant-based meat is promising, why alternative protein and fat biosynthesis food technologies have a future,” Sergey Ivanov said during his address. "There is no such talk in the Middle East. Food security there is a national priority. And our technologies enable to solve this problem. We will set up a biotech plant near Dubai and obtain fats and proteins right there. And no one needs convincing of the benefit of such products".
“Now we are actively introducing the Persian Gulf to Hi! products," Sergey Ivanov said while responding to reporters. "In June, we held plant-based meat tasting events in Dammam for three major catering companies, HoReCa distributors and local chefs. We have received pre-orders from Arab catering companies".
The Innoprom discussion on food tech confirmed that players in the industry share many topics for discussion - from cooperation and creating industry associations to a relevant custodian at the Ministry of Industry and Trade and integration into the funding projects of the Industrial Development Fund. The very fact that food of the future stands alongside robotics, aircraft and mechanical engineering projects confirms the boldness and high level of local projects. Speakers will continue discussing food innovations at the wider INNOFOOD forum scheduled for September 2022 in Sochi.