A new partnership between Unilever’s plant-based meat brand, The Vegetarian Butcher, and döner kebab producer The Düzgün Group, aims to disrupt the kebab market with a plant-based meat skewer.
The Düzgün Group is a family-owned, European business that produces commercial döner kebabs from its production sites in Germany and Poland, supplying skewers to chains, shops and restaurants in more than 15 countries.
Through the partnership, The Vegetarian Butcher wanted to bring the traditional döner kebab format to vegans and vegetarians, allowing them to enjoy a plant-based product that offers the authentic taste and experience of an animal meat kebab.
The resulting offering will begin to roll out to the German and European foodservice markets this month, and is also lactose-free and halal-certified.
Traditional döner kebab meat is cooked vertically, with heat distributed as it spins to allow outer layers are evenly cooked and coated in a fat basting, before being sliced off and served with condiments and bread of the consumer’s choice.
While most existing plant-based kebabs on the market are pre-cut in a convenient format or require additional cooking after being cut from the skewer, the two companies have developed a plant-based skewer that is made to be grilled on the skewer just like its animal-derived counterpart, with the same speed of cooking and browning.
It has been flavoured with spices such as the traditional cumin, oregano, garlic and onion for an authentic meat kebab taste using a plant-based recipe. Its base is soy protein, with several binding ingredients added to allow for it to be shaped like a traditional kebab skewer while giving it the same texture and slicing ability.
The Vegetarian Butcher said it incorporated a blend of fats with different melting characteristics, working to ensure that the plant-based meat was still juicy when browned and ready to be sliced.
Kitchen teams will not need to add equipment or amend cooking techniques – Hugo Verkuil, The Vegetarian Butcher’s CEO, said that the skewer can “seamlessly fit with their equipment and cooking procedures”.
He added: “We are targeting meat-lovers – from vegans to carnivores – who don’t want to miss out. And when it comes to guests, we are convinced people will not be able to taste the difference.”
Blue Yildizbakan, project leader at The Düzgün Group, said that the group can deliver on a large scale and is therefore “perfectly set up to offer restauranteurs an international supply chain for plant-based skewers”.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2023
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