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Vegan meals take off on Emirates

Emirates says that it served about 450,000 plant-based meals last year and plans to increase its offering Emirates
Emirates says that it served about 450,000 plant-based meals last year
  • Airline offers 300 recipes
  • Demand increases by 40%
  • Figures reflect broader trend

Dubai’s Emirates reported a 40 percent increase in demand for vegan meals across its network of 140 routes in 2023, and has plans to add more plant-based catering options in 2024.

The airline served 450,000 plant-based meals on board last year, up from 280,000 in 2022.

The biggest rise in demand was on routes to China, Japan and the Philippines.

The Dubai-based company said it has 300 vegan recipes on rotation across 140 destinations, up from 180 recipes in 2022.

Catering is a profitable sector for Dnata, the airline’s sister company that provides services including ground handling, cargo and flight catering services. In 2022-2023, it delivered 111 million meals to airline customers, a year-on-year increase of 179 percent.

Food, Food Presentation, Cutlery The polenta cake, available in first class, is one of more than 300 vegan recipes on rotation onboard Emirates flightsEmirates
The polenta cake, available in first class, is one of more than 300 vegan recipes on rotation on board Emirates flights

This generated revenue of AED4.8 billion ($1.31 billion), while costs to produce the meals rose 288 percent year on year to AED2.9 billion.

The plant-based market will account for 7.7 percent of the global protein market by 2030, with a value of more than $162 billion, up from $29.4 billion in 2020, according to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence.

Research by Triton estimated that the Middle East and Africa plant-based food and beverage market is anticipated to grow by an average of almost 11 percent per year between 2023 and 2030.

Making the switch

Switch Foods, the plant-based meat brand based in Abu Dhabi, opened its first factory in Kezad in May last year and in August announced it was available at 133 stores across the UAE.

“I believe that with the right product offering and the right price point, the market can be three, four, five times its size today,” Edward Hamod, founder and CEO of Switch Foods, told AGBI in June.

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