MIDDLE EAST- As consumers in the Middle East increasingly embrace the trend towards plant-based products and healthier eating, global ingredient solutions provider Ingredion, in collaboration with its distributor Univar, is unveiling a range of natural, healthy, and sustainable products based on plant-based ingredients and sugar reduction. 

This move comes in response to the growing demand for ethically sourced, nutritious options in the Middle East, with 50% of UAE consumers prioritizing their food and beverages’ nutritional content and naturalness.

Our commitment to plant-based proteins, cost-effective formulations, and sugar-reduction capabilities reflects our dedication to meeting the evolving needs of consumers while helping manufacturers thrive in a challenging economic climate,” says Quentin Labbe, Sales and Technical Services Manager for the Middle East, North, and West Africa at Ingredion.

Ingredion’s previous plant-based launches include a pea and rice protein blend that can be used in extruded snacks and beverages, and a low-viscosity pea and rice isolate for ready-to-mix beverages and protein bars that offer a cleaner and smoother texture. 

Pea protein innovations have been gaining traction in plant-based protein products, with researchers using fermentation to create plant-based cheese, as the University of Copenhagen demonstrated, using yellow pea protein to create cheese firm gels with minimal off-notes.

Innovation in the plant-based sector continues, with critical players eyeing continued growth. For instance, during the recent Anuga event, companies like Plantway showcased high-moisture extrusion technology to create plant-based chicken chunks based on pea protein, offering a meat-like appearance. 

Ingredion plans to showcase its value-added plant-based reformulations at the Gulf Foods Manufacturing event next year to cater to the escalating demand for ethically sourced and nutritious options in the Middle East. 

The products will feature plant-based ingredients and sugar-reduced content and will be prepared by Kevin Alder, the Principal Culinologist EMEA Lead at Ingredion. 

The exhibit will include a range of items such as vegetarian lamb kofta, egg-free tahini mayo featuring NEST, a citrus fiber, sugar-free chili ketchup, fresh cream cheese with protein crackers, and a chocolate dessert with no added sugar, a Crème Brulée, and reduced-sugar non-alcoholic beverages.

In response to this shift towards healthier eating, the Middle Eastern food scene has become more nuanced and diversified, with health, wellness, ethics, sustainability, and convenience becoming key consumer considerations across the region. 

Consumers are actively seeking clean-label ingredients and shorter ingredient lists, and companies like GNT are responding to this trend with their halal-certified plant-based natural colors to replace artificial food dyes.

In other news, Kemin has also introduced a natural alternative to potassium sorbate in emulsions, sauces, and dressings to cater to consumer demands for cleaner labels in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, and Africa).

The Middle East is evolving towards healthier, more sustainable food choices, and companies like Ingredion and Univar are poised to meet the increasing demand for plant-based and sugar-reduced products in the region.