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Wed 8 Jul 2020 02:59 PM

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Food tech start-ups boosted by Covid-19 pandemic, says Prince Khaled

KBW Ventures' investments in the cellular agriculture to date cover chicken, beef, seafood and milk

Food tech start-ups boosted by Covid-19 pandemic, says Prince Khaled

Prince Khaled said there was a major uptick in sales of plant-based products.

Start-ups that focus on food technology have benefitted from an increasingly health-conscious public during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, the founder and CEO of KBW Ventures.

KBW Ventures has invested a number of companies that work in the food tech space, including Singapore-based biotech firm TurtleeTree Labs, which specialises in lab-grown milk, and US-based Memphis Meats, Beyond Meat and Plant Power Fast Food.

In an exclusive interview with Arabian Business, Prince Khaled said “there was a major uptick in sales of plant-based products that indicated both that people were buying bigger quantities and buying more often”.

“There was also much more awareness around the benefits of clean meats and clean dairy…as people began to have a deeper understanding of the way that zoonotic diseases make the jump from human to animal,” he added.

Clean technologies

KBW’s investments in cellular agriculture to date cover chicken, beef, seafood and milk.

“People are certainly more interested in these technologies and seeing the ‘clean’ aspect as very appealing,” Prince Khaled said. “Not to mention the environmental plusses of clean meats over animal agriculture, like no antibiotics, and now, no potential for zoonotic disease proliferation.”

In a previous interview with Arabian Business, before the pandemic began, Prince Khaled said that he believed the main impediment to wider adoption of plant-based meat products remains price.

“Plant-based products are more expensive,” he said. “There’s no way to sugar coat that. That said, healthy food in general is more expensive….a great number of people opt for junk food because it is more affordable and is often a faster solution.”

However, Prince Khaled said that the challenge posed by high prices is gradually being overcome.

“Each year, costs go down as the science and tech behind the production and logistics and so on improve,” he added. “These production cost reductions are passed onto consumers eventually.”

According to research from AT Kearney, GCC consumers have some of the highest per capita meat consumption rates in the world, totalling 64 kg per person in Saudi Arabia and 59 kg per person in the UAE.

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