Turning your sights towards F&B opportunities in MENAT

Interview with Semi Hakim, CEO of Kök Projekt

🍽️🥂 We're Back, Hungrier Than Ever! 🥂🍽️

Hey there, fellow F&B enthusiasts,

Did you miss us? We sure missed you! 🎉 

After a short hiatus, we're eager to reconnect with all of you, the trendsetters and tastemakers shaping the culinary world. 🍔🍷

While we've been away, we've been keeping a close eye on the ever-evolving landscape of food and drink. From the latest gastronomic innovations to the most sippable beverage trends, we've been brewing, roasting, and fermenting ideas to serve you the freshest insights.

Our focus for the last quarter of 2023 is going to be innovation. Stay tuned for our upcoming issues, where we'll dive deep into various facets of innovation and new product development, with delicious insights-packed main courses from our experts on this topic.


  • 📰 In The News: Martian agri-tech, greenwashing clampdowns, Middle Eastern food trends, and more…

  • 📱Trending with Gen Z: Candied fruit is making waves in South Korea!

  • 🚀 Innovation Deep Dive: Semi Hakim, CEO of the Kök Projekt, gives us the lowdown on the top 3 food-tech trends revolutionizing the food industry in the MENAT region.

📰 In The News

A curation of our favorite F&B innovation stories from the week. Can be read in less than a 🧻 break.

Cool down with a few beers… in your pocket!

Tiger Beer and fashion designer Izzy Du have made a puffer jacket for the summer that can lower body temp by up to 5ºC using cold beer cans. 

The jacket has a network of tubes filled with water that is pumped around the wearer’s body. When the wearer puts ice-cold cans in the beer pockets, the canisters transmit their temperature to the network of tubes to chill the water, thus cooling down the body temperature.

If you happen to be in Paris during Paris Fashion Week, give it a try and give us your review!

Image source: Tiger Beer/Designboom

Join Us at AFTEA 2023!

GourmetPro is thrilled to be the official media partner for the Agri-Food Tech Expo Asia (AFTEA 2023). This event promises cutting-edge insights into the food-tech world, and we'll be right there capturing all the action.

Swing by in Singapore from Oct 31st to Nov 2nd and let's reconnect. We're eager to engage with each client and partner in attendance.

📱Trending With Gen-Z

What social media is telling us about Gen-Z’s cravings! Can be enjoyed during an 🛗 ride.

Guess what's sweeping through South Korea's Gen Z like a sweet whirlwind? It's tanghulu, an old-timey Chinese sweet treat that’s essentially juicy fruit wearing a shiny, candy armor.

In the first half of 2023, Tanghulu was the rockstar of frozen and convenient foods, topping the charts as the most searched term among South Korean teenagers. It's so hot that in 2023, a whopping 168 out of 185 tanghulu-related trademarks came to life, according to the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service.

So, what's behind this sweet sensation? Blame it on ASMR! Youngsters have been creating mesmerizing videos of tanghulu crunching and munching, turning it into a social media phenomenon. 🍭📈

Image source: Instagram

🚀 Innovation Deep Dive: 3 F&B Trends Transforming The MENAT Region

Weekly deep dive into an F&B trend. Can be read in less than a 🚋 ride.

Over the past decade, technology has played an increasing role in shaping how people in this MENAT region produce, consume, and think about food. However, as technology globally drives rapid changes in the food industry, it's crucial for businesses to stay updated with the latest food-tech trends in the MENAT region, as they have significant implications for sustainability, consumer preferences, and business models. So what are the food-tech trends making waves in MENAT as we approach 2024?

In this article, we will explore the top 3 food-tech trends revolutionizing the food industry and bring you an exclusive perspective from the ground. We spoke with Semi Hakim, the CEO of the Kök Projekt, one of MENAT’s leading accelerators specializing in the Agri-Food space. During an insightful discussion, Semi identified the most sought-after solutions to the region’s pressing food security challenges.

Semi Hakim, Co-founder and CEO, Kök Projekt

Let’s dive right in.

1. Agri-Biotech: The Science Behind Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture

Food security and food safety have taken center stage in GCC countries. Vision documents and government policies are increasingly focusing on ESG, and a sustainable food supply is a top priority.

Yet, the specter of climate change poses enormous challenges for agriculture. Especially in the Gulf region, where conventional farming struggles against water scarcity and unsuitable soil conditions.

This is where agri-biotech startups are stepping in, according to Semi.

From vertical farming to drone-powered precision agriculture, there’s much going on to develop sustainable agriculture with tech. At present, there’s a strong push to develop climate and drought-resistant crops leveraging Nutrigenomics across the whole of MENAT. Similarly, there are several startups in the region harnessing desalination (removing salt from seawater) and seawater-based agriculture techniques.

One such startup, Red Sea Farms, uses advanced genetic techniques to modify crops, so they can be irrigated with seawater.

Nations in MENAT are looking for technologies that can enable crop cultivation in arid conditions or enhance the output of agriculture on limited fertile soils.

2. Addressing Food Waste and Food Loss

The global issue of food waste and loss isn't lost on the MENAT region. The region wastes an average of 250kg of food per capita annually, high by global standards. With rising concerns around sustainability and the ethical implications of wastage, there's a burgeoning focus on this issue.

Given that the region is heavily dependent on imports, and food scarcity is being exacerbated by climate change and supply chain turmoil, waste reduction is crucial.

Numerous startups are emerging with solutions ranging from holistic food waste management to addressing losses right from the fields. Food loss is high in the MENAT region creating a need for startups that can help farmers maximize the use of their crops and waste-proof the supply chain.

A Jordan-based startup, Decapolis, uses data analysis and blockchain technology to help farmers produce crops that are compliant with global standards. Farmers in Jordan typically lose a lot of their crops because high pesticide usage prevents them from being able to sell on the global market. With Decapolis’s tech, they can control growing parameters so their crops are safe to sell internationally.

With challenges existing at every stage of the supply chain, opportunities for food waste solutions are much sought after in MENAT.

3. The Surge of Alternative Proteins

The global shift towards alternative proteins, such as plant-based products, hasn't eluded the MENAT region.

While the demand isn't as strong as in Western counterparts, there's a palpable rise in interest. However, the market is nascent, and regional preferences differ, with North Africa and the Levant displaying different inclinations compared to the Gulf region.

Recognizing this trend, established food brands in MENAT are starting to roll out plant-based products, according to Semi.

As brands that consumers are familiar with increase focus on plant-based and vegan offerings, it will open the door for startups to enter the market with higher quality, more unique products.

Semi emphasizes that there’s currently a particular demand for dairy protein in the MENAT region. For example, KGROUP inked a deal with US startup Change Foods to establish a precision fermentation facility for the development of casein in the UAE.

Across the broader alt-protein spectrum, US startup MycoTechnology is partnering with Oman’s sovereign wealth fund to set up a local production facility that would use waste dates as a feedstock to ferment protein-rich biomass. In the plant-based category, local startup Switch Foods began selling their plant-based meat products in the UAE earlier this year and is bullish about the demand in MENAT.

From sources of alternative protein to solutions that fight food waste or enhance agricultural output, MENAT is looking to food tech to help build a more resilient food system. Innovators, the region needs you!

Like what you’re reading?

That’s all folks

Thanks for reading today’s newsletter.

Share your ideas for how we can improve with this 30-second, anonymous, 2-question survey:


About Us: GourmetPro is a global network of elite food and beverage industry talents. We provide fractional hiring solutions, allowing international managing directors to scale and transform their local resources and teams with high flexibility and expertise in more than 20 countries. Explore our services.

💌 If you have any questions, you can directly answer this email. We read and answer all messages.

💖 And if you think someone you know might be interested in this edition of Market Shake, feel free to simply forward this email or click the button below. 💖

👉 P.S.: GourmetPro is also on Linkedin and Twitter!