The healthy food segment, which focuses on plant-based foods, dairy alternatives, and naturally sugar-free products, continues to flourish with growing demand and popularity among consumers. The restaurant industry is faced with big changes around the world as the foodservice sector continues to expand and innovate within this category. To fulfil consumers’ ever-changing demands, operators are looking at developing new menus that cater to this “health-conscious” segment. To stay on top of trends, Chef Middle East (CME) has announced the launch of three new brands, Rude Health, Violife and Wheyhey, to start forming a health-focused proposition in its markets.
“Chef Middle East has a very strong existing Dairy portfolio. However, with new trends centred around dairy alternatives, we decided to onboard Violife as a Cheese alternative and Rude Health as a Milk alternative. Both brands represent a very superior quality of products that sits right in line with CME’s positioning. Though there are dairy alternatives available in market, most of them are focused around the retail sector. However, Violife and Rude Health have a range of products which are developed alongside chefs with technical applications in mind. For instance, the Barista milk range from Rude Health and the alternatives of cream cheese, mozzarella, Greek feta and much more from Violife,” says Jiji Mathews, Dairy Category Manager at Chef Middle East.
The Dairy alternatives space is one of the fastest-growing categories, with non-dairy milk driving the market.
Romy Brackel, Senior International Account Manager at Rude Health says: “At Rude Health, we don’t believe in compromises. Our high-quality, dairy-free drinks are the best alternative to milk; they are full of flavour. They are carefully crafted, using the highest quality, sustainably sourced and most natural ingredients. We’re here to add value to your offering, signalling to the world that quality really is at the heart of your business. The range includes dairy-free drinks: Almond, Coconut & Oat (gluten-free), a barista range: Barista Oat, Barista Almond and Barista Soy. Rude Health is the number one organic dairy alternative brand in the UK, the 3rd biggest dairy alternative brand in the UK and the proud winner of nine Great Taste Awards in 2020.”
“Chef Middle East stands for premium quality through inspiring culinary craftsmanship, just like we do.
With their focus on the up and midmarket segment, their current distribution focus is the right fit for Rude Health. We are confident that, with CME, we can make a better dairy alternative offering available to many operators in the UAE. The demand for dairy-free drinks is growing year on year and Rude Health will keep on innovating drinks at a fast pace,” adds Brackel.
Cheese alternatives are predicted to be the next hit in plant-based innovation.
Andrew Harrison, Sales Director at Upfield Middle East says: “We are launching the Violife range of 100% vegan, dairy-free alternatives to cheese in the Middle East. Available in slices, blocks, grated and creamy in original, cheddar and mozzarella flavours, consumers and diners can now enjoy delicious toasty, pizza, lasagne, sandwiches, cheesecakes and more, but the ‘vegan way’, with Violife. With more than 30 years of development and production experience, Violife is the global leader in vegan alternatives to cheese with a proud history of making great-tasting, vegan products. These products are 100% free from preservatives and allergens such as dairy, lactose, gluten, nuts, and soy. They are fortified with vitamin B12 and made from coconut oil, which is known for its health benefits. Violife is owned by Upfield, the world’s largest plant-based food company; focused on natural ingredients, as well as kinder, more natural processes that deliver great tasting healthier products with superior quality and performance.”
Harrison explains: “Chef Middle East has been Upfield’s business partner for over two years, through which it has demonstrated great strengths as a leading distributor of the finest quality food and beverage in foodservice channels. We have an aligned strategy of driving high quality, plant-based and vegan solutions to our customers, so that their diners are delighted every day. We are focused on driving the plant-based agenda in the Middle East region within all foodservice channels as we see such categories growing in triple digits with customers looking for solutions to meet their diners’ new requirements.”
Additionally, Pooja Bhatt, Pastry Category Manager at Chef Middle East, comments on the distributor’s new partnership with the Wheyhey brand: “Our new partnership with Wheyhey will reinforce our ambition to be the one-stop-shop for our customers. Over the past years, we have solidified our pastry and bakery offering by launching new brands to complete our existing portfolio. We constantly assess our markets’ needs and have witnessed increased demand for sugar-free solutions, observing that our customers, mostly chefs, look for treats where guests can indulge, while paying attention to their health and calorie intake. The health component is generally becoming key, and we loved Wheyhey’s mission to make delicious snacks healthy with a commitment towards sustainability.”
Mark Dutton, Strategic Director at Wheyhey says: “We position our range of products as ‘great tasting healthy treats with a twist’…not only are they healthier, but they are good for you! We offer ice cream that is naturally sugar-free, high in protein and low-calorie. We use the best of milk to create the creaminess of our ice cream – made using local produce from farmers we know and trust.”
Chef Middle East is held in high esteem both locally and internationally for sourcing and supplying the best quality ingredients and products to their customers. For Wheyhey, working with Chef Middle East gives the whole team a huge sense of pride that such a prestigious partner would join us on our journey to change how people find and eat healthy food.
UAE is a cornerstone market for the Wheyhey brand, and Chef Middle East is the foundation in that market for us. What we will achieve with Chef Middle East in the region will dictate and influence how we operate with our other partners in the Middle East and in other regions such as China and the US. We also feel that the UAE is a very knowledgeable market – we are sure we will learn a lot about our brand from local consumers and experts at Chef Middle East.”
Shifts in lifestyle, food habits and health awareness are driving trends in the market for operators to innovate and offer consumers what they are looking for in terms of healthy offerings and the level of quality they want in food. Quality and consistency remain a top priority, two major elements that Chef Middle East ensures are on top of the list with Class-A brands that share the same values and mission.