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Mon 21 Oct 2019 12:01 PM

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Traditional meat industry spreading 'disinformation' about cultured meats, says Prince Khaled

Prince Khaled said that disinformation campaigns have characterised 'clean meat' as 'frankenfoods'

Traditional meat industry spreading 'disinformation' about cultured meats, says Prince Khaled

KBW Ventures founder and CEO Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal al Saud

There is significant ‘fearmongering’ and ‘disinformation’ in the public sphere regarding cultured meat and other cellular agriculture products, according to KBW Ventures founder and CEO Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal al Saud.

Cellular agriculture refers to the use of bio-technology, tissue engineering and synthetic biology to produce to create products that would have been traditionally created using traditional agriculture methods. Cultured meat, for example, is created using in vitro cultivation of animal cells, rather than meat that is made from slaughtered animals.

Through KBW Ventures, Prince Khaled has invested in a number of companies involved in cultured and plant-based meat products, such as cell-based food tech firm Memphis Meats and Beyond Meat, a Los Angeles-headquartered plant-based food manufacturer.

In an exclusive interview with Arabian Business, Prince Khaled said he believes that there remains “a real barrier” to widespread adoption of cultured meat, chicken and seafood products, particularly when compared to the growing acceptance of plant-based foods.

“There is fearmongering and disinformation campaigns that try and position these clean meats as ‘frankenfoods’ for the benefit of the traditional meat companies,” he said. “It simply isn’t true.”

Prince Khaled added, “Like any sensationalist claims, this type of thing travels faster.

“Unfortunately, the idea that clean meat really is clean, anti-biotic free and uses only the resources that are exactly required….is lesser known and lesser shared across social platforms.”

More VC funding needed

According to Prince Khaled, while there are “ample” funds for plant-based business models, “cellular agriculture still needs more backers.”

“The discrepancy in interest here can be partially chalked up to concerns about speed of development and barriers to growth; products in the CellAg space will take longer to get to market and are more complex to scale,” he said. “There are a large number of VCs who are ready to get behind a good plant-based product, but cultured meat still generates a lot of scepticism.”

Recently, five CellAg companies created the first ever lobbying group, the Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation, to represent the sector in Washington DC.

“We at KBW Ventures and our co-investors in CellAg...[are] very confident that the entire food tech sector is moving forward rapidly,” Prince Khaled said. “The Alliance’s formation alone is a great indicator of how quickly we will see these products get to market.”

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