Unilever’s The Vegetarian Butcher and Düzgün Food Group, a producer and wholesaler supplying skewers to döner chains, shops, and restaurants in more than 15 countries, announce the European launch of their first jointly developed product: a plant-based kebab skewer for food service.
“We are targeting meat-lovers – from vegans to carnivores – who don’t want to miss out”
The new meat-free kebab, intended for large-scale operations, can be cooked and grilled vertically on a large skewer and shaved off as traditional animal meat. The NPD is said to offer the authentic taste and experience of the traditional kebab. It is halal-certified and lactose-free, suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians. The product is already available for distribution.
“Hacking meat icons like the döner kebab with plant-based equivalents is what it is all about for us. We are targeting meat lovers – from vegans to carnivores – who don’t want to miss out,” says Hugo Verkuil, CEO of The Vegetarian Butcher.
An exciting challenge
The plant-based kebab “took significant development,” explains Bart van de Ree, R&D developer at The Vegetarian Butcher. Its formulation combines soy, a blend of fats with different melting characteristics, and binders, to deliver the right texture for a “perfectly” grilled, juicy, and thinly sliced meat. To deliver the flavour of the traditional grilled meat the recipe includes cumin, oregano, garlic, and onion.
“The development was an exciting challenge: döner kebab is a unique product with a long tradition. The joint development allowed us to understand and then mimic all the culinary aspects of the kebab: the flavour, the texture, the slicing and shaving as well as the grilling behaviour,” van de Ree adds.
A stand-alone addition
According to The Vegetarian Butcher, over half of Germany’s street food outlets are döner kebab shops selling over €2.4 billion of sandwiches annually. A YouGov poll shows the döner kebabs overtook currywurst as Germany’s most popular street food. And in Europe, 400 tonnes of kebabs are sold daily, mainly exported from Germany, bringing in revenues of up to €12 billion a year.
By offering a plant-based alternative, European consumers will have an accessible option at fast food joints and restaurants and meatless kebabs could become mainstream, argue the companies. The demand for plant-based kebabs keeps growing, especially in Germany, where 42% of people are trying to reduce meat consumption.
“The plant-based kebab is a great extension of our existing product range. It is not an alternative but rather a stand-alone addition to our range. We cannot wait to distribute the first skewers to our customers,” says Fevzi Düzgün, CEO of The Düzgün Group.