Lab-grown meat is going to be a key part of Middle Eastern diets whether people like it or not, a Saudi businessman has insisted.
Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, founder and CEO of KBW Ventures, has poured money into plant-based food companies such as the US-based Beyond Meat.
At the Middle East Agri-Food Briefing on Monday, Prince Khaled made it clear he sees lab-grown meat — also known as cellular agriculture — as playing an ever-increasing role in providing food security to the region.
He argued the inefficiencies around animal agriculture will see companies shift to the new products — which sees meat created from animal cells.
The meat industry is not dying at all, as a matter of fact it’s growing, it’s going to grow by an enormous number but that also compliments the cellular agriculture industry.
Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, CEO of KBW Ventures
Prince Khaled said: “Cellular agriculture, a large amount of meat that is being consumed here in the region and everywhere in the world whether we like it or not, whether people are components of this or not, the reality is companies will vastly understand that the inefficiencies of animal agriculture far outweigh any benefits that it can provide.”
He added: “Cellular agriculture is by definition the exact same thing as a slaughtered animal, it’s a piece of flesh. It’s just about having people educated on the fact this is a one-to-one replica of the same thing.”
The Saudi advocate of new agricultural methods highlighted that although there are many people lessening the amount of meat that they eat in a week, it does not mean the companies producing it are being negatively affected.
“The meat industry is not dying at all, as a matter of fact it’s growing, it’s going to grow by an enormous number but that also compliments the cellular agriculture industry,” he said.
The prince heaped praise on Qatar for being a pioneer in the field of cellular agriculture in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.
“It’s everywhere in the world. Look at Qatar, I absolutely applaud Qatar for partnering with Eat Just, Inc. and starting this revolution here. And I welcome having Abu Dhabi or the UAE in general and I do welcome obviously Saudi Arabia, which I’m a huge component of, and actually advocate starting something huge that will happen here very soon.”
He also talked about food scarcity as a driver for innovation in the GCC and called for the participation of the public sector.
“One of the things I do believe that are key main drivers for the need for innovation here in the GCC is the food scarcity issue,” he said.
“The issue of food production also — having to source technology to solve that issue is one of the most important things. We can’t just throw money at an issue and expect it to be solved, we have to have innovation, we have to have the private sector chip in. With the assistance of the public sector to try to help us with solving these enormous issues.”
He added: “Hydroponics is one of the biggest things that I believe is going to be a big driver here. Cellular agriculture is going to be an enormous industry here. But more importantly. I do believe that with the cooperation of all our GCC countries I think we can definitely get these issues solved.”