Future Foods: The Surprising Fruits of Smart Partnerships

Future Foods: The Surprising Fruits of Smart Partnerships

By Marge Pihlapuu, Head of International Sales at Enterprise Estonia

Could a humble chocolate bar hold the key to food security in the UAE? Take a bite of Inducia chocolate, and you won’t notice anything revolutionary. Yes, there’s a rich texture, and with 72% cocoa, it’s definitely at the luxury end of the market.

But look down the list of ingredients: there’s a gut-friendly probiotic and vitamin D.

This chocolate doesn’t just taste good, it actually boosts your immune system and digestion.

Inducia is one of the surprising fruits of the smart partnerships we promote in Estonia. The probiotic was discovered by teams at Tartu University and Nordwise - an Estonian health supplements producer.

Together, they responded to consumer trends and created a chocolate that satisfies rising health and taste demands.

Smart partnerships don't just exploit new markets. They’re also key to sustainable food production, in Estonia and across the Middle East.

Imagine if the farms and plantations of Fujairah and the Liwa Oasis were supplemented by large scale bio-reactors, producing good food regardless of climate conditions.

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This kind of future food is already a reality for Estonia’s smart tech partners. Inside the labs at the Centre for Food and Fermentation Technologies (TFTAK), cutting edge science and business logic come together.

As more consumers ask for meat free meals, TFTAK’s researchers are turning plant proteins and microorganisms into juicy, healthy burgers. Crucially, these ideas don’t just stay in the lab: TFTAK already works with food industry giants like Danone and DuPont.

The UAE has worked hard to achieve the best food security in the MENA, but wants to top the Global Food Security Index by 2051. One solution is to import food from a wider range of countries. Estonian food exports to UAE more than doubled in the first eight months of 2022 (up to $80 million).

But we’d like to think we can export more than just our favourite Estonian foods. We can export our smart partnerships too.

At Enterprise Estonia, we have put focus on helping scientists and entrepreneurs to work together. Several new companies have grown from partnerships at our universities and tech centres.

You probably know Estonia as a startup nation, home to tech unicorns like Skype, Bolt and Pipedrive. But you can find the same smart partnerships across the Estonian food sector and its supply chains too.

Smart partnerships are crucial to the success of the UAE’s food security goals. Essa Al Hashmi, Assistant Under-Secretary of the Ministry for Sustainable Communities and Acting Assistant Under-Secretary for Green Development and Climate Change, recently said the food trade is a leading national sector.

This is a good time for investors in the region. Last year, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) agreed with Emirates Development Bank (EDB) to support new technology and sustainable systems in agrifood.

The UAE can focus its many scientific and business talents on cutting food waste, diversifying production and making logistics more resilient.

I would urge investors, researchers and agrifood entrepreneurs to learn from Estonia’s experience. And who knows, maybe the next chocolate bar you eat will come from a smart partnership that’s grown inside the UAE.

Read More: Red Sea Farms, SAUDIA Sign MoU to Bring Healthy Meals to Passengers

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