Tapping into the vegan food chain
middle eastern vegetarian was formed by MVK Group investment Firm, which has been investing in plant businesses for five years. As the only plant-based retail company in the UAE, the company’s goal is to remove animals from the food chain while providing people with amazing, high-quality ethical products and vegan foods that change things. Vegarian partners with and supports brands that share our passions and our ultimate goal of helping our environment by eating ethically produced vegan foods. Some of its current brands include Mister Free’d (Tortilla Chips), VFC (Vegan Fried Ch*cken) and FreeSoul, a brand of vegan nutritional supplements.
SME10X spoke to Divyesh Bhatiathe co-founder of Vegarian who leads GCC operations for the company, his role involves sourcing exciting new brands from around the world to bring to the UAE, as well as managing the day-to-day operations of the company.
What is the market size of this segment in the Middle East?
Divyesh Bhatia (DB): This (vegan) segment is a $500 million market, growing at an annual rate of 8%. However, there is also a dramatic increase in the number of health-conscious consumers concerned about the apparent negative health effects associated with meat, including an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. per capita in the UAE is 73 kg per year. This exceeds the 18 kg recommended by the World Health Organization. Given this, we expect the growth of this sector to double over the next 5 years.
Where are the franchise opportunities and how would that work?
comics: Vegarian’s mission is to take animals out of production and work on a global issue that needs immediate attention. Our mission is to acquire the distribution rights for high quality plant-based restaurant concepts from the US and UK and bring them to the Middle East. Vegarian is currently in negotiations with 2 new restaurant concepts that are leading unique concepts in their home markets.
Regarding our retail division, we have introduced a list of some of the leading herbal concepts from around the world in the Middle East. We started with some of the most revolutionary and reputable brands like Mister Free’d (Tortilla Chips), VFC (Vegan Fried Ch*cken) and Only Plant-Based (sauces and condiments). These brands are loved and used by millions of consumers around the world.
What type of investment does Vegarian put into this segment?
comics: In addition to contributing to one of the key pillars of Expo 2020 (sustainability), we seek to be a key driving and educational force for the people of the United Arab Emirates. Our brands can compete with major food brands, which also fall under the non-vegan category purely based on taste, health and quality.
We will seek to deploy local marketing budgets in some of the larger stores that take our brands and we will constantly seek to educate the customer on the benefits of working with the carefully selected brands we support.
On top of that, the founding team behind Vegarian is a consortium of venture capitalists looking to deploy £100m of investment in plant-based businesses around the world over the next 3 years.
How will this work in the ecosystem that already includes leading supermarkets and retail companies that already include vegan products and ranges in their retail outlets/products?
comics: Major supermarkets include vegan products while Vegarian is a one-stop-shop for only plant-based foods from around the world. Our goal is not to compete with supermarkets, but to help them by scrutinizing brands through our R&D team, who will only offer the best proven plant-based brands from around the world. We will pioneer plant-based distribution across the UAE by creating an ecosystem of quality-driven, tasty food brands.
What countries does Vegarian cover?
comics: Vegarian is currently working in the United Arab Emirates, but we will be opening offices in Saudi Arabia by Q3 2023 in hopes of spreading our message to the people of Saudi Arabia, as well as aiming to open a office in Singapore in 2022.