A new plant-based meat production centre has been inaugurated in Abu Dhabi, and its products are set to arrive at UAE supermarkets in May.
The newly-built Switch Foods factory occupies 2,000 square metres at the Khalifa Industrial Zone in the capital, and can produce 1,000kg of plant-based meat per hour, or 8,000kg a day.
Aside from the high-tech production floor, the factory also has a science lab, an innovation lab and storage units for raw materials and final products.
The products, which will be available in supermarkets across the country next month, include kebab, soujuk, kofta, burger patties and minced meat. All of them are 100 per cent plant-based, mainly from peas.
The inauguration comes as meat alternatives win renewed popularity, with people becoming more health conscious.
Several international brands already have a presence in the UAE, such as the popular Beyond Meat, but Switch Foods prides itself on being home-grown.
According to Edward Hamod, the company’s chief executive, having a local production line will address concerns about such products’ typically high price points. Without revealing the pricing, he said their products are going to be “by far the cheapest”.
Aside from cost, faux meat has also struggled to completely win over the mainstream food scene amid concerns about texture and flavour. Some people have described it as feeling dry in the mouth and having an earthy aftertaste.
Hamod says Switch Foods worked initially with chefs from North America in the development phase but eventually enlisted regional chefs to capture the local flavour.
“We worked on different projects with different chefs and restaurants,” he adds, saying they are launching further collaborations soon. In addition to its retail operations, the company also plans to sell meat products to such venues.
Earlier this year, Dubai saw the opening its first plant-based meat factory. Food producer Iffco opened Thryve at Dubai Industrial City in March.