Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

Pea protein milk and degradable water bottles: eight cool products spotted at Gulfood 2020

For its 25th anniversary, the event encouraged F&B producers to 'rethink food'

Gulfood, the region’s longest-running food and beverage trade show, returned to Dubai World Trade Centre between February 16 and 20. For its 25th anniversary, the event encouraged producers from around the world to demonstrate how they are “rethinking food”. From vegan milks and butters to zero-waste packaging, here are some of the most intriguing products we spotted at this year’s event.

Sugar-free energy drink

Energy drinks are a perennial favourite among youngsters; a study conducted by Sharjah Women’s College, Health and Sciences Department found 85.1 per cent of Emirati students consume them. Catering to local demand while setting sights on global markets led to the creation of Dubai Energy Drink, a homegrown product that will retail from the second quarter of this year.

“I wanted to create a premium product that tastes and looks great, and is positioned at a competitive price point by capitalising on the local production factor,” says chairman Mohammed Al Mazrouei.

However, with obesity being a concern in the UAE, Al Mazrouei did not want his product to add to people's sugar intake. The sugar-free version of Dubai Energy Drink is the first product in its category to use stevia as a plant-based sugar substitute, and contains 3kcal per can.

Pea protein milk

As veganism branches out, the market for non-dairy milks has seen a boom. Almond, soy, coconut and oat milks are commonly available, but Blossom Hill Farm, part of the New Zealand Gulfood 2020 pavilion, has become the first to launch its Hatuma Pea Protein vegan milk, derived entirely from yellow peas, and free of soy, dairy and nuts.

According to a brand representative, pea protein, “digests slowly, which helps improve body composition and is better for muscle growth over time”. The drink, which has the appearance and texture of regular milk, also foams easily, making it a barista’s dream, and is also suitable for cooking and baking.

Pea protein offers environmental benefits, too; it requires a third of the water needed to cultivate oat and soy, uses minimal pesticides and can be vertically farmed.

The Hatuma Pea Protein vegan milk is available in three flavours and will retail for about Dh20 per litre.

Degradable water bottle

As plastic continues to fall out of favour, many consumers are going out of their way to purchase liquids in glass or reusable bottles, and a growing number of F&B providers are catering to this demand. At Gulfood, the UAE's Agthia Group announced the launch of Al Ain Plant Bottle, the region’s first completely compostable and biodegradable plant-based water bottle. The environmentally friendly bottle (including the cap) is made up of 100 per cent plant-based sources, and will degrade within 80 days.

Vegan mayonnaise

Vegan Mayonnaise by Gut Instinct. Courtesy of Gut Instinct
Travel sachet of vegan mayonnaise by Gut Instinct

It’s a much-loved condiment on sandwiches, burgers and more, but with egg being mayo's primary ingredient , most vegans are left out on the lurch. Enter Gut Instinct, part of the Welsh pavilion, which brought its vegan mayonnaise to Gulfood.

Ingredients include rapeseed, oil, water, sugar, modified maize starch, English mustard, salt and a stabiliser, creating a product that taste-wise is indistinguishable from regular mayonnaise.

The vegan mayonnaise will be priced at approximately 30 per cent more than the typical version and will be available in travel-friendly sachets, for those looking to add a burst of flavour to their food on the go.

Chicken and beef-flavoured plant burgers

Gulfood 2020 saw a record number of vegan and vegetarian products, including homegrown company Healthy Farm’s protein burgers. Offered in four varieties - beef taste, spicy beef taste, chicken taste and spicy chicken taste - these healthy patties are made from kale and quinoa, giving them a high nutritional profile by sneaking in those superfoods.

Jacek Plewa, chief executive of Healthy Farm, says the company uses a simple recipe and keeps processing to a minimum. “They contain 180 to 212 calories per 100 grams, which is roughly 30 per cent less than traditional meat burgers."

All four variants will soon be available in select restaurants across the UAE.

Brown sprouted rice

Sprouted brown rice by India Gate. Courtesy of India Gate 
Sprouted brown rice by India Gate

Dieticians and fitness trainers often talk about the benefits of brown rice over its white counterpart. India Gate, known for its classic Basmati rice and other grains, is going one step further with sprouted brown rice, which offers all the benefits of brown rice and then some. A company representative explains that “an additional process of sprouting is done, which activates dormant enzymes and softens the bran layer, leaving the rice less sticky, with no bursting and curling” - thus giving a high nutritional quotient as well as an improved texture.

Some of the health benefits, according to the brand, include accelerated fat metabolism and boosted immunity.

Sprouted brown rice needs to be soaked in water for 30 minutes, then cooked for another 20 minutes in boiling water. It’s currently available at leading supermarkets and retails for Dh21 per packet.

Dairy-free cream and butter

“If you spoke about plant-based meat 10 years ago, people would have laughed – but now things are completely different. People cannot even tell the difference between plant-based and real meat,” says Reinier Weerman, general manager for Upfield in North Africa and the Middle East. “I’m convinced that in the next 10 years, plant-based foods will dominate the market.”

It’s this thinking that led Upfield to unveil its 100 per cent dairy-free Flora Plant Butter and Plant Cream at Gulfood 2020. The products are made using plant-based oils, which have natural fats, and according Weerman, offer more health benefits than traditional butters and creams, while keeping the same flavour profile. “We are catering to the global health conscious wave,” he adds. And the environmental benefits of the products are the vegan icing on the cake.

Zero-waste butter

Zero-waste butter from Canary
Zero-waste butter from Canary

Sustainable packaging and compostable bottles are obviously giant leaps forward for the food and beverage sector, but Canary is going a different way and omitting packaging altogether. The company presented its zero-waste butter at the New Zealand Dairy Pavilion at Gulfood. The clean-cut, perfectly shaped butter medallions are transported using wax paper, and served sans packaging, thus minimising the amount of plastic or foil that ends up in landfill. For now, the butter will be made available to hotels, airlines and caterers in the region.

Updated: February 19, 2020 11:35 AM



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