Plant-Based Eating and Alternative Proteins in Middle East and Africa

March 2022

Interest in plant-based eating and alternative proteins in the Middle East and Africa had been steadily rising pre-pandemic and was further accelerated by consumers looking at healthier options. The Middle East and Africa has the lowest per capita sales of processed meat and dairy, and so meat and dairy alternatives hold huge potential to address increasing demand. Affordable prices, trustworthy ingredients and halal certification are the keys to success in the region.

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Key Findings

Plant-based eating is on the rise in the region

While there may be varying cultures of consuming dairy and meat across the different countries comprising the Middle East and Africa (MEA), plant-based eating and alternative proteins has been steadily rising and was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers in the Middle East and Africa have a higher propensity towards plant-based eating when compared to their global peers.

Health is the main reason for a plant-based diet

Health benefits are the main reason for consuming plant-based diets. Plant-based alternatives are deemed to be (and are marketed as) healthier compared to their dairy/meat counterparts. Concerns over climate change and sustainability are also driving growth, however these are still small compared to health motivations and not considered as major reasons for shifting to plant-based diets.

Product introduction from foodservice to retail

An effective strategy used by manufacturers is launching plant-based meat and dairy to foodservice in the region first. For example, Beyond Meat’s burger was initially served at Burger Fuel and created a buzz among consumers to try them at home. Once consumers became familiar with the products in foodservice, they became more likely to buy in retail.

Israel leads plant-based innovations in the region

Across the region, Israel is far advanced in terms of plant-based trends and the country is home to many start-ups focused on food technology, including production of cell-based meat and dairy. With the normalised relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, technological know-how is expected to be shared between these two countries and then later on with the wider region.

Product trust, price and ingredients are concerns

Factors to be considered are halal certification and ensuring that consumers trust the product. Price points are important and as more players enter the market, more consumers will be able to afford a plant-based eating lifestyle. Ingredients are also becoming more scrutinised as consumers become more conscious of food sustainability.

Scope
Key findings
Culture of meat and dairy consumption differs across MEA
Plant-based eating and alternative proteins in dept h
Dairy and meat and seafood alternatives steadily rising
MEA consumers’ attitudes are amenable towards plant-based diets
Biggest reason for plant-based eating is health
Meat analogues’ market shift from vegetarians to flexitarians
Foodservice offerings boost interest for meat analogues
Foodservice companies at the forefront for meat substitutes
Shelf stable packaging promotes growth of milk alternatives
Oats and blends see most dynamic growth
Local plant-based brands move in to close the price gap with dairy
Cell-based meat has the potential to be popular
Israel and Qatar race for sale of cell-based meat
Cell-based dairy likely to be more acceptable
New protein frontiers
Continued success for plant-based eating is forecast
Key takeaways

Staple Foods

NOTE: Couscous, polenta and quinoa are excluded from staple foods.

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