British butcher in Dubai goes meat-free with first plant-based sausages

Booming British Butcher Shop looks to meat alternatives to capture a growing market

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What started out as a butcher making high-end sausages to sell online has rapidly grown into a well-loved, up-and-coming Dubai cottage industry.

Irn-Bru sausages, haggis or black pudding may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the range of 18 specialist pork products sold by the British Butcher Shop in Mudon are going down a storm.

Three years since launching, former supermarket boss Mike Barker is now bringing his first plant-based range of burgers and bangers to the UAE.

I took a lot of persuading to launch plant-based sausages but I'm passionate about this now

The Plant-B range will land in Dubai next month – with a UAE production facility for meat alternatives also planned.

“I looked at plant-based recipes and thought we could change the arena for these foods as we have done with pork,” said Mr Barker, a father of two who has lived in the UAE for 24 years.

“There is a market, it is growing and I want to be one of the first to do it here with Plant-B.

“We already make an Irn-Bru sausage, a Cumberland black-pudding sausage and a haggis sausage using spices from Glasgow.

“I’m confident I can carry that innovation forward to the halal side of the business and meat alternatives.

“We want to have a go at making our own meat-free bacon from scratch, but I will only sell it if it is any good.”

What is in a meat-free sausage?

The Plant-B range will include a breakfast sausage, Cumberland sausage, an apple and sage sausage, meatballs and a burger.

They are primarily made from mushrooms, rapeseed oil, water, herbs, spices and breadcrumbs.

Demand for meat alternatives is on the rise, due to health concerns over processed meats rich in cholesterol, carcinogenic substances and saturated fats that can cause cancer and heart disease.

Environmental concerns and animal welfare issues are other factors behind more people turning to plant-based products.

According to market researchers Euromonitor, the worldwide fake meat market is now worth an estimated $20.7 billion (Dh76 billion) and looks set to grow an estimated $3 billion by 2024.

Beyond Meat is the current market leader, with the company’s burger passing a taste test to see how closely it resembled real meat.

Ingredients include pea and rice protein, potato starch, apple and pomegranate extract, vinegar and lemon juice.

It also contains dipotassium phosphate, potassium chloride, titanium dioxide and maltodextrin to retain a meat-like texture.

Mr Barker, from Hartlepool in England, originally dropped out of the supermarket business to start his own sporting events and media company.

When that failed he returned to his passion – the food industry.

An opportunity to set up shop in the pork area of Geant supermarket in Mudon was too good an opportunity to miss and since then his business has taken off.

The British Butcher Shop now has three stores, employing 22 people, with three more due to open this year, including a delicatessen in The Meadows.

“I was fed up buying sub-standard, imported pork products from supermarkets, so decided to sell my own,” he said.

“I am a butcher and meat trader at heart, so I knew what quality to look for and what people wanted.

“When we started, there were just two of us making sausages in a tiny area of this shared hotel kitchen.

“We had to make, pack and deliver the sausages from a chiller in the car park.

“Now we have an office in Motor City and a production area in Jumeriah Lakes Towers. We do everything ourselves with our own trucks, drivers and warehouse.

“I took a lot of persuading to launch plant-based sausages, but I’m passionate about this now.”