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The Vegetarian Butcher & The Düzgün Group Revolutionising the European Doner Kebab Market

The European culinary landscape is on the brink of a significant transformation with an innovative partnership between The Vegetarian Butcher and The Düzgün Group, Europe's largest doner kebab producer.


This marks the start of a new era in the kebab market with the launch of a plant-based meat skewer mirroring taste and texture of the 'old world' animal meat döner.


In Germany, the heartland of döner kebab, this street food is surpassing the fame of the classic currywurst, as shown in recent YouGov polls. More than half of the country's street food outlets are dedicated to döner kebabs, contributing to an annual sale of over €2.4 billion. This trend is not confined to Germany; Europe as a whole produces about 400 tonnes of kebabs daily, mostly exported from Germany, generating an impressive €12 billion in revenue each year.


Traditionally, döner kebab meat is cooked vertically, which has been a culinary barrier for vegetarians and vegans. Now, thanks to a product developed by The Vegetarian Butcher in partnership with The Düzgün Group, an halal-certified and lactose-free plant-based kebab skewer is available to street and cafe diners alike.


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Source: Unilever - The Vegetarian Butcher


Developing this product was not without its challenges according to Bart van de Ree, R&D Developer at The Vegetarian Butcher. "The development was an exciting challenge (because) döner kebab is a unique product with a long tradition." says Bart van de Ree.


The joint effort focused on mimicking the culinary aspects of kebabs, including flavour, texture, slicing, and grilling behavior. A significant amount of work went into perfecting the product. The plant-based kebab, soy-based and using various binding ingredients, is shaped to resemble a döner kebab skewer, allowing it to replicate the texture and slicing ability of animal meat kebabs. Additionally, it's designed to be grilled on the skewer just like an animal meat kebab, with similar cooking speed and browning characteristics.


The launch is timely, especially in Germany, where 60% of 16–59-year-olds express interest in plant-based kebabs, aligning with the 42% actively trying to reduce their meat intake.


Fevzi Düzgün, CEO of The Düzgün Group, says the skewer's uniquely positioned. "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," says Fevzi Düzgün


Source: Unilever - The Vegetarian Butcher


The skewer is designed for seamless integration into existing restaurant setups, with no need for additional equipment or altered cooking techniques. Hugo Verkuil, CEO of The Vegetarian Butcher, says a whole new doner market has opened up. "Hacking meat icons like the döner kebab with plant-based equivalents is what it is all about for us," says Hugo Verkuil. "We are targeting meat-lovers – from vegans to carnivores – who don’t want to miss out."


The diversity of döner kebab toppings and flavors across Europe – ranging from classic tomato and cabbage in Germany to falafel and French fries in Spain – highlights the potential of the plant-based kebab to adapt and appeal to various tastes across the continent.


This plant-based döner kebab skewer is not only a response to the increasing demand for sustainable and ethical food choices but also a response to new audience of 'concerned citizens', offering a familiar taste in a uniquely new form.


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