As per global data and business intelligence platform Statista, the plant-based meat market is expected to be worth US$33.99 billion by 2027. And while that should be incentive enough for one to start an enterprise in this arena, for Edward Hamod, who founded Switch Foods in the UAE in 2022, one of the drivers for his foodtech startup -which locally produces plant-based alternatives to meat- was his personal experience working in the F&B industry.

“We live in a world where health, sustainability, and global climate change are on every government agenda, and on the minds of most people, where immediate drastic measures are needed,” Hamod adds. “One of the top causes of health risks, pollution, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emissions is our food systems. The energy industry is spending billions of dollars to cut emissions and switch to green solutions, and if we do nothing as food producers and consumers, our food systems will soon become the biggest emitters in the world. Plant-based alternatives and increasing consumer adoption of plant- based foods into diets is a must if we are to improve individual health, and slow or reverse our food systems’ impact on climate change.”

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As per global data and business intelligence platform Statista, the plant-based meat market is expected to be worth US$33.99 billion by 2027. And while that should be incentive enough for one to start an enterprise in this arena, for Edward Hamod, who founded Switch Foods in the UAE in 2022, one of the drivers for his foodtech startup -which locally produces plant-based alternatives to meat- was his personal experience working in the F&B industry.

“I’ve been working in the food business since 2005, and I have owned, operated, and led many successful food companies across the region,” Hamod reveals. “But in 2017, I started to learn more about the effect of our food systems on the individual’s health, and our planet as a whole. In the years since, I have shifted my mindset from being solely commercially-driven, to focusing more on the purpose of what I do, and how I can use my experience and network within the food industry to build something ‘good.’ I quickly understood the severe effects our food systems have on our health and the environment, and that animal meat production and consumption were a major part of the problem. I also quickly found out that the alternative healthy and sustainable choices to meat on supermarket shelves did not taste good, or provide the consumer with a seamless alternative to animal meat.”

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Al Etihad

A strong desire to address serious gaps and inefficiencies in the food system brought forth the launch of Switch Foods, a FoodTech startup based in the UAE, said its Founder and CEO, Edward Hamod.

In an interview with Aletihad, Hamod detailed the startup’s journey and highlighted the need for healthy, sustainable, and delicious food options, particularly in the Middle East.

According to Hamod, food production is one of the world’s few sectors sustaining 30% waste at origin and 30% waste at destination – no other industry is as inefficient as the food system. In addition, after energy, the food and agriculture system is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, with around 30% of total global emissions.

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As January approaches, each year there are more calls to embrace ‘Veganuary’ and start the year off with one eye on adopting more plant-based practices.

By 2030, the plant-based food industry could make up 7.7 percent of the global protein market, according to a report from the Good Food Institute.

With that in mind, and much more, restaurants in the UAE are offering more plant-based alternatives, but the road ahead is far from straightforward, or guaranteed at all.

Here, Edward Hamod, CEO of meat-alternative firm Switch Foods, discusses the challenges and reasoning behind the movement.

His company used pea proteins as the base of its products, which include plant-based kofta, kebab, soujuk and minced meat that are created to mimic the meat versions.

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UAE-based Switch Foods founder Edward Hamod story unfolds as a symphony of familial heritage, global insights, and a steadfast commitment to sustainability, painting a vivid portrait of an entrepreneur fueled by impact.

Born into a world of entrepreneurship, Edward Hamod’s narrative was woven with threads of innovation from the start. Hailing from Syria, a lineage of entrepreneurs surrounded him. “I grew up in a family business environment,” Hamod reflects, tracing the roots of his entrepreneurial spirit. This familial tapestry kindled the spark that would guide him through a lifelong journey and fostered a fascination with creating value, steering one’s destiny, and leaving an indelible mark.

Hamod’s experiences took him from the heart of Syria to the expanse of corporate America and Europe. However, his compass always pointed towards his family’s entrepreneurial endeavours. This led to the establishment of AlManal in 2006—a food processing conglomerate that burgeoned into one of Syria’s largest. This chapter marked a pivotal juncture where Hamod’s entrepreneurial spirit found new dimensions. “The idea was always to take it back to Syria and continue to grow and expand the family business,” he explains.

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Timeout Abu Dhabi – Food

Back in April, Abu Dhabi’s first plant-based meat factory opened in Khalifa Industrial Zone.

And now you can buy GMO-free, soy-free, allergen-free, gluten-free, vegan, and halal-certified kebabs, soujuk, minced meat and burger patties at supermarkets across the city.

All of the products are made using pea protein (no, we don’t know how it gets that meaty taste either).

The Pro Chef

Abu Dhabi-based alternative meat brand Switch Foods reveals the official launch of its product range, now readily available at prominent retail outlets and leading online food platforms throughout the UAE.

This significant expansion allows patrons to explore and relish Switch Foods’ captivating array, obtainable at various esteemed retail destinations including Carrefour, Organic Food Café, Grandiose, Geant, Union Coop, Sharjah Coop, Al Maya, Abella, and recently, Spinneys outlets across the nation.

Furthermore, this innovative offering can be conveniently purchased via online avenues encompassing Talabat, Careem, Kibsons, and Noon.

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Switch Foods, the plant-based meat brand based in Abu Dhabi, is now available at 133 stores across the UAE as the Gulf’s appetite for alternative diets continues to grow.

Consumers can now buy its products from retailers including Carrefour, Organic Food Café, Grandiose, Geant, Union Coop, Sharjah Coop, Al Maya, Abella and Spinneys. Online purchases can be made through platforms such as Talabat, Careem, Kibsons and Noon.

Edward Hamod, founder and CEO of Switch Foods, said the take-up showed retailers’ commitment to local producers and the drive towards “reducing the region’s carbon footprint”.

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Hospitality News

With extensive leadership experience in Middle Eastern food manufacturing, Edward Hamod recognized the region’s need for wholesome and locally sourced food. Fueled by a passion for food security, source diversity and Middle Eastern-friendly alternative meats, Hamod established Switch Foods. We learn more about the company and its unique product offering.

How was Switch Foods able to create plant-based products that prioritize sustainability while celebrating local culinary traditions?
We were able to do this thanks to two years of dedicated research and development in collaboration with experienced food technologists, food scientists, universities, research organizations and culinary chefs from three continents. Our team worked extensively on experimenting with different plant protein sources and natural ingredients to mimic the flavors and textures of meat used in local traditional dishes.

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Switch Foods is a food tech startup incubated in the UAE, focused on delivering quality, clean label, healthy, sustainable, plant-based food, focused on actually local dishes with local taste, with the ambition to increase consumer adoption of plant-based diets in the region.Our cap table has investments from the U.S., as well as from the region, strategic investors from the region, whether it’s individuals or family offices, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco. It’s a diversified investor…

What’s On Dubai

And where to find the best meat alternatives in the city…

The science is pretty clear — most of us should be eating less meat. We’re simply pointing out the facts, we’re not here to judge, the author of this feature likely ranks in the 99th percentile for carnivorous consumption. But for our own health, and that of the planet’s, going plant-based — if not exclusively at least a little more often — is almost certainly a very good thing.

Planting the seed

The cruelty-free trend isn’t new of course, and neither is the concept of ‘meat alternatives’ — but the products have been getting steadily more sophisticated, and some are now suspiciously close to their inspiration. There are entirely ethical plant-based burgers that ‘bleed’, chicken-free nuggets you’d swear had history in the coop and doner that once spiced and layered with condiments are virtually indistinguishable from the traditional 2am ‘all the salad and chilli sauce please boss’ snack.

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Dubai One TV

Abu Dhabi’s first plant-based meat factory, Switch Foods, has opened its doors. The new center is producing plant-based local delicacies, Amal Al-Jabri reports. Looks, smells and tastes like meat, but it’s not real meat. This popular regional food has been designed to mimic the taste and texture of real meat, but without using any animal products. They’re produced by homegrown food tech startup Switch Foods, who’ve recently opened Abu Dhabi’s first plant-based meat facility based at Kizad…


Abu Dhabi’s first state-of-the-art plant-based meat production facility has been inaugurated in KEZAD. From May 1, the facility will start producing food products, which are 100 per cent free of genetically modified organisms (GMO), soy, allergens and gluten.

The items produced — including kebab, kafta, sujuk, minced meat and burger patties — will be vegan and halal-certified.

Homegrown foodtech start-up Switch Foods said it will provide a wholesome alternative to conventional meat products without compromising on taste. The opening of the innovative facility on a plot measuring 20,000 square feet is set to boost food security, sustainability and climate action efforts, the company said.

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Al Arabiya English

And while some industry professionals look to replace imports with similar products made locally, others are turning to meat-less alternatives to fill that gap.

With quality lamb and mutton options seemingly dwindling in the wake of New Zealand’s live cattle export ban and Australia’s steady phasing out of similar exports, a long-time agro-tradesman in the UAE said it would not carry as significant of an impact as many expect.

Speaking to Al Arabiya English, Edward Hamod, who previously played a role in the supply of cattle feed and now runs a UAE-based alternative-meat company, said he is not worried about the ban, adding that the supply chain will adjust to changes.

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UAE-based foodtech startup Switch Foods has opened what it claims is the first plant-based meat facility in Abu Dhabi, located in the Khalifa Economic Zones (KEZAD).

Switch aims to offer meat alternatives that cater to local tastes, encouraging UAE citizens to make healthier and more sustainable choices under the motto “Switch for good”. The new 20,000-square-foot facility will produce a range of allergen-free plant-based products, including kabab, kafta, soujuk, minced meat, and burger patties.

Ensuring a healthy and reliable food supply

The site also features a laboratory, an innovation center, and offices, along with areas for cold storage, preparation, and logistics. It was inaugurated on April 26 in the presence of H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed AlMheiri, the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

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Green Queen

The UAE is aiming to become a global leader in sustainable food management systems with the launch of Dubai’s Food Tech Valley project ahead of COP28 and Abu Dhabi’s new plant-based meat production facility for vegan meat brand Switch Foods.

Food Tech Valley

Dubai’s Food Tech Valley is angling to attract young and creative minds to shape the future of food production and become the first of its kind in the region. The new project will include vertical farms, a logistics center, an R&D center, and a shopping area.

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment said the UAE’s “wise leadership” places significant importance on enhancing food security on sustainable foundations and finding solutions to national food security challenges.

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Arab News

Inaugurated in the presence of Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, minister of climate change and environment of the UAE, the cutting-edge facility represents a significant milestone for the UAE’s burgeoning plant-based food industry, aligning with the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy 2051, which aims to promote food security through sustainable innovations and diversified food sources.

Almheiri said: “The food and agriculture sector faces the critical challenge of climate change. We must ensure a healthy and reliable food supply for our people while recognizing that global food systems account for over a fourth of greenhouse gas emissions. Plant-based meat generates 30 to 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional meat and contributes to a more sustainable food supply.”

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Seeking to manufacture sustainably authentic Middle Eastern food begins in the Middle East according to Switch CEO & Founder, Edward Hamod.

Until now most of the plant-based products for local UAE consumption have been imported but with Switch coming online a large gap in a growing ME market is filled. According to statista.com, the value of meat-substitute products in the UAE alone is rising, growing annually by 27.19 per cent.

Traditional Middle Eastern products include kebab, kafta, sujuk, minced meat and burger patties ; all plant-based vegan and halal-certified.

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The National

Abu Dhabi’s first plant-based meat factory opens.

Plant-based kabab, soujuk, kafta, burger, mince meat and other local delicacies are being produced…

Abu Dhabi has opened its first factory producing plant-based meat products. The 2,000 square meter Switch Foods plant produces 1,000 kilograms of meat substitute an hour. From May 1, Switch Foods’ burgers, kaftas and soujuk will be available in shops throughout Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

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Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi now has its production facility for plant-based meat substitutes, with its first products expected to be available on store shelves from May 1 onwards.

Plant-based meat is made from vegetarian sources and meant to be similar to real meat in taste and texture.

Food tech startup Switch Foods, located in the Khalifa Economic Zones Abu Dhabi (KEZAD), is set to become only the second plant-based meat production factory in the UAE. Last month, the first such facility was launched at the Dubai Industrial City by IFFCO Group.

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TimeOut Abu Dhabi

Vegetarian and vegan options have moved forward leaps and bounds, and you won’t find many menus that don’t feature at least one plant-based meat item these days.

While you might think cutting meat out would make your grocery shop cheaper, those who crave alternatives will know that they’re often just as pricey, or even pricier, than the real thing.

But now the launch of Abu Dhabi’s first-ever plant-based meat factory has given us hope that more affordable alternatives are on the way – and very soon.

Al Khaleej

افتتحت مريم بنت محمد المهيري وزيرة التغير المناخي والبيئة أول مصنع متخصص بإنتاج اللحوم من المصادر النباتية عالية البروتين، الأربعاء، ويقع المصنع الذي أطلقته شركة «سويتش فوودز» في «كيزاد أبوظبي».

وتمثل هذه المنشأة المتطورة خطوة مهمة لتعزيز دور الأطعمة النباتية التي يتزايد استهلاكها بشكل مستمر في المنطقة، والتي تنسجم مع الاستراتيجية الوطنية للأمن الغذائي 2051، التي تهدف إلى تعزيز الأمن الغذائي في الدولة من خلال الابتكارات المستدامة، الإنتاج المحلي، وتنويع مصادر الغذاء.

إقرأ المزيد

The National News

A new plant-based meat production centre has been inaugurated in Abu Dhabi, and its products are set to arrive at UAE supermarkets in May.

The newly-built Switch Foods factory occupies 2,000 square metres at the Khalifa Industrial Zone in the capital, and can produce 1,000kg of plant-based meat per hour, or 8,000kg a day.

Aside from the high-tech production floor, the factory also has a science lab, an innovation lab and storage units for raw materials and final products.

The products, which will be available in supermarkets across the country next month, include kebab, soujuk, kofta, burger patties and minced meat. All of them are 100 per cent plant-based, mainly from peas.

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Khaleej Times

Abu Dhabi’s first state-of-the-art plant-based meat production facility has been inaugurated in KEZAD. From May 1, the facility will start producing food products, which are 100 per cent free of genetically modified organisms (GMO), soy, allergens and gluten.

The items produced — including kebab, kafta, sujuk, minced meat and burger patties — will be vegan and halal-certified.

Homegrown foodtech start-up Switch Foods said it will provide a wholesome alternative to conventional meat products without compromising on taste. The opening of the innovative facility on a plot measuring 20,000 square feet is set to boost food security, sustainability and climate action efforts, the company said.

Go to full article


The facility is being lauded as the city’s first plant-based alt-meat factory.

UAE-based food-tech start-up Switch Food recently inaugurated its first commercial production factory in Abu Dhabi, and the company announced that its products are set to arrive at UAE supermarkets in May.

“The food and agriculture sector faces the critical challenge of climate change,” UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam bint Mohammed AlMheiri said at the inauguration of the facility in Abu Dhabi

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