Middle East, Asia likely to become biggest markets for cultivated meat: Aleph Farms CEO

From L-R clockwise: Aleph Farms' commercial prototype; Aleph Farms co-founder and CEO Didier Toubia; Scientists of Aleph Farms analyzing collagen-producing cells under a microscope. (Supplied/Daniel Elkayam)
From L-R clockwise: Aleph Farms' commercial prototype; Aleph Farms co-founder and CEO Didier Toubia; Scientists of Aleph Farms analyzing collagen-producing cells under a microscope. (Supplied/Daniel Elkayam)
Short Url
Updated 27 May 2022

Middle East, Asia likely to become biggest markets for cultivated meat: Aleph Farms CEO

Middle East, Asia likely to become biggest markets for cultivated meat: Aleph Farms CEO
  • Firms creating meat, fish and dairy in a laboratory have received substantial backing over the past half-decade
  • Climate change, threats to supply chains increase potential demand for lab-grown meat, says Aleph Farms CEO

DAVOS: With concerns surrounding intensive agricultural farming and its damaging role in climate change growing, progress in the field of cell-cultivated meat has sped up in recent years. 

Companies and scientists behind creating meat, fish or dairy products using the cells of an animal in a laboratory, without harm coming to the animal, have received substantial backing over the past half-decade. 

One such company, Aleph Farms based in Israel, raised more than $100 million in last year’s Series B funding round and counts actor Leonardo DiCaprio among its backers. 

It is on track for market launch by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2023 at the latest, its co-founder and CEO Didier Toubia told Arab News at the World Economic Forum. 

“It will depend upon regulatory approval, but we are working actively on making sure the approvals arrive as quickly as possible, it’s not an exact science,” he said. 

With food security issues growing, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the disruption to global supply chains and increase in shipping costs, there is a strong political will to come up with more secure, local ways to produce high-quality nutrition, Toubia said. 

He believes the Middle East and Asia will be considerable markets for the cultivated meat sector. 




Despite this being a relatively new technology, Toubia does not expect consumer resistance to eating cultivated meat over that produced by traditional methods. (Supplied/Aleph Farms/Technion-Israel Institute of Technology)

“In the Middle East, there are two or three countries relatively up to speed with cultivated meat,” he said. 

“We are working quite closely with the UAE, with investment into the company at the Series B funding round last year. 

“Because it’s produced in a closed system, we can produce meat independently from the availability of local arable land, in any climate, so it’s a great solution for producing meat in the Middle East or Asia, in countries which rely heavily on imports — especially for beef, which is our focus. 

“This is the reason the UAE and Israel are interested in what the company has to offer. Israel imports 88 percent of its beef, China imports 90 percent of its beef, Japan 65 percent, so there is a strong will to find alternatives,” he said. 

While the UAE and Israel are leading the way in the MENA region in terms of regulatory approval, Toubia said Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait are also looking into it seriously. 

“Overall, I believe the Middle East and Asia will become one of the largest markets for cultivated meat 10 years down the road, no doubt about it,” he said. 

Despite this being a relatively new technology, Toubia does not expect consumer resistance to eating cultivated meat over that produced by traditional methods, following market research. 




Aleph Farms' slaughter-free steaks. (Supplied)

“We have seen a high level of expected acceptance, ranging between 70-90 percent across the board in Middle East and Asia, overall it’s high everywhere,” he said. 

“There will need to be education to really fulfil the potential of cultivated meat because it’s a new way of producing meat. 

“But the benefits of it are clear, it’s a more secure way to produce meat, it’s safer because we have no pathogens, the transparency of the production is higher. 

“Nutritional quality is important to us, but also culinary, sensory quality, so our first product will be thin cuts of beef, which fits in with the Asian food culture very well. 

“We can also adjust the nutritional profile of our meat, to make it healthier or more suitable for specific consumers, and create a repeatable meat-eating experience, which is difficult with the standard meat, so there are lot of aspects that make it attractive to consumers,” he said. 

Toubia also does not envisage cultivated meat production putting smallholder or traditional farms out of business, but rather acting as a developing alternative to intensive, concentrated animal farming practices and a supplement to the smaller operations. 

Aleph Farms’ costs of production are expected to be 30 to 50 percent higher than conventional meat production at first, but Toubia said the firm has “a clear roadmap for lowering that” within five years of launch by 2028.

 


Saudi Aramco to pay $19bn dividends following a record Q2 net profit

Saudi Aramco to pay $19bn dividends following a record Q2 net profit
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi Aramco to pay $19bn dividends following a record Q2 net profit

Saudi Aramco to pay $19bn dividends following a record Q2 net profit

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco to pay dividend of $18.8 billion in the second quarter followiing a record net profit of $48.4 billion, the company said in a statement.


Oil Updates — Crude down; US offshore oil output to restart; Russian oil flows to Czech Republic resumed

Oil Updates — Crude down; US offshore oil output to restart; Russian oil flows to Czech Republic resumed
Updated 24 min 17 sec ago

Oil Updates — Crude down; US offshore oil output to restart; Russian oil flows to Czech Republic resumed

Oil Updates — Crude down; US offshore oil output to restart; Russian oil flows to Czech Republic resumed

RIYADH: Oil prices plunged around 2 percent on Friday, on expectations that supply disruptions in the US Gulf of Mexico would be short-term, while recession fears clouded the demand outlook.

Futures, however, were still on track for a weekly gain.

Brent crude futures fell $1.45, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $98.15 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude $2.25, or 2.4 percent, to settle at $92.09 a barrel. Both contracts gained more than 2 percent on Thursday.

US offshore oil output to restart after pipeline fix

A damaged oil pipeline component that disrupted output at several offshore US Gulf of Mexico platforms was repaired late Friday, a Louisiana official said, with producers moving to reactivate some of the halted production.

A failed flange connecting two onshore pipelines operated by Shell Plc in Louisiana leaked an estimated two barrels of oil. The oil, which spilled onto an area covered with gravel, has been removed, said Chett Chiasson, executive director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, and the flange had been repaired by Friday evening, he said.

The spill halted the operation of two pipelines that bring oil from several production facilities off the Louisiana coast, curtailing about 600,000 barrels per day of output from Shell, Chevron Corp. and Equinor, according to two people familiar with offshore operations.

On Friday evening, the Amberjack and Mars pipelines that were stopped by the leak were back online and returning to normal service, after crews completed the repairs at the Fourchon booster station, Shell spokesperson Cindy Babski said.

Shell is also in the process of ramping up production at its three platforms that deliver Mars sour crude, an oil grade popular with refiners in the US and Asia, Babski added.

Russian oil flows to Czech Republic have resumed

Russian oil flows to the Czech Republic through the Druzhba pipeline resumed after more than a week on Friday evening, Czech pipeline operator MERO said, as transit fee payments were unblocked.

Supplies via the Druzhba pipeline had been suspended to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia since Aug. 4 because Western sanctions prevented paying transit fees to Ukrainian transit company Ukrtransnafta, Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft said on Tuesday.

A European bank has agreed to process the payment for the transit of Russian oil through Ukraine, removing the cause of the stoppage.

“Supplies of Russian oil through the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline on the Czech territory resumed at 8 p.m. today (Friday),” MERO said in a statement.

Czech refiner Unipetrol, a unit of Poland’s PKN Orlen, confirmed its refineries again started receiving oil through Druzhba and added the week-long outage had not affected its operations.

(With input from Reuters) 


Saudi Tadawul sees profit declining 23% amid record IPO listings

Saudi Tadawul sees profit declining 23% amid record IPO listings
Updated 5 min 1 sec ago

Saudi Tadawul sees profit declining 23% amid record IPO listings

Saudi Tadawul sees profit declining 23% amid record IPO listings

RIYADH: Saudi Tadawul Group Holding Co., owner of the Kingdom’s bourse, has posted a 23-percent first-half profit drop amid a record year of initial public offerings.

The group made SR278 million ($74 million) in profit during the first half of 2022, down from SR362 million in the same period last year, it said in a bourse filing.

This was coupled with an 8.3 percent decline in revenue to SR592 million, mainly due to the decrease in trading services and post-trade services.

Higher salaries and employee-related benefits further weighed on profit during the six-month period, leading to a rise of 9.8 percent in expenses to SR301 million.

The chairman of the Capital Market Authority, Mohammed Elkuwaiz, had earlier told Arab News that Saudi IPOs are on course for a record year, adding that the number of listings in the first half of 2022 has already surpassed those of last year.

Commenting on the results, CEO Khalid Al-Hussan said: “Testament to the avid growth and diversification of our market and its attractiveness is the growing number of IPOs during the first half of the year, resulting in 246 listed companies on both the main market and Nomu – Parallel Market.”

Tadawul also launched single stock futures contracts earlier this year as its second derivatives product.


Saudi banks increase loans by $77.1bn in Q2

Saudi banks increase loans by $77.1bn in Q2
Updated 13 August 2022

Saudi banks increase loans by $77.1bn in Q2

Saudi banks increase loans by $77.1bn in Q2
  • Kingdom is moving toward Vision 2030 by developing the trade sector and ensuring its sustainability

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia’s bank loan portfolio rose by SR289 billion ($77.1 billion) in the second quarter of this year from the same quarter a year ago, according to a recent statistical bulletin released by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA.

Bank loans totaled SR2.42 trillion at the end of the second quarter of 2022, up from SR1.95 trillion in the second quarter of 2021, showed the SAMA report.

The SR289 billion increase was led by an SR191.1 billion growth in miscellaneous activities. Its share increased by 2 percentage points to 52 percent in the second quarter of 2022.

The data showed that the value of Saudi banks’ aggregate loan portfolio totaled SR2.24 trillion at the end of the second quarter of 2022, up 14.8 percent from the year before and up 4 percent from the previous quarter.

The annual growth in bank loans dropped to a negative in 2017 and remained below zero until the third quarter of 2018. However, bank loans have been seeing an upward trend ever since, according to the SAMA report.

From the third quarter of 2018 until the end of 2019, the value of Saudi bank loans grew at an average rate of 3.7 percent year on year; between 2020 and the second quarter of this year, it grew at an average rate of 14.8 percent year on year.

The dominating segment in the Kingdom’s loans was miscellaneous economic activity, which acquired 52 percent of the total loans this quarter.

Commerce came in second, holding 17.2 percent of total loans in the country, recording SR385.7 billion in the second quarter, showed the data.

The Ministry of Commerce in the Kingdom has been moving toward the Saudi Vision 2030 by developing the trade sector and ensuring its sustainability, according to the Kingdom’s Unified National Platform.

The platform stated: “The Ministry of Commerce’s mission focuses on improving the business environment in Saudi Arabia through enacting, developing and supervising the implementation of flexible and fair trade policies and regulations.”

Even though total bank loans expanded this quarter, two economic activities saw a quarterly decline in bank credit in the second quarter of this year: manufacturing and processing and transport and communication.

Bank loans to transport and communication fell by SR6.2 billion in the second quarter of 2022 from the same quarter the previous year.

Compared to the previous quarter, the sector dropped from 2.1 percent of total loans in the first quarter to 1.9 percent, showed the SAMA bulletin.

Bank loans given to manufacturing and processing fell by SR4 billion in the second quarter of 2022 from the same quarter the previous year.

The data showed that the sector dropped from 7.2 percent of total loans in the first quarter to 6.9 percent compared to the previous quarter.


QS Monitor taps 90% of global food trade

QS Monitor taps 90% of global food trade
Updated 13 August 2022

QS Monitor taps 90% of global food trade

QS Monitor taps 90% of global food trade
  • Platform currently operates in 72 countries: Managing director Burak Karapinar

RIYADH: UAE-based global food trade startup QS Monitor has created a platform for food traders to ship their goods risk-free.

Established in 2020, the company mitigates the risk for exporters as they streamline their shipments to avoid food loss by providing traders with the requirements for their goods to pass security measures.

Burak Karapinar, the managing director and founder of QS Monitor, told Arab News that the platform currently operates in 72 countries, which amounts to almost 90 percent of the global food trade industry.

“We are in 72 countries and growing, but this represents almost 90 percent of the global food trade. So, the ones we don’t have on the platform right now are either small countries or ones that are not big in the food trade,” Karapinar said.

Calling it the “Google for food trade,” Karapinar explained that traders input the product along with the destination, and QS Monitor will provide a complete list of requirements.

But that is not at all. Joe Hawayek, the board member of QS Monitor, told Arab News that the platform also links users to testing laboratories in their country.

“We are linking them with a testing laboratory in their country that can conduct these tests, issue them with the relevant certification that says they have passed, and they take it and travel with it for their product from the start,” he added.

By linking these players, Karapinar is trying to mitigate the food loss in the supply chain caused due to contamination. 

FASTFACTS

• As the Ukraine-Russia war affected the global food trade sector, the company plays a huge role in ensuring importers are still connected with exporters.

• Saudi Arabia and the UAE import most of their eggs from Ukraine, and because of the platform, importers could find alternative sources for their products.

“To give you an idea, 72 percent of global food loss happens in the supply chain, not at home or on the consumer’s plate,” he pointed out.

As the Ukraine-Russia war affected the global food trade sector, the company plays a huge role in ensuring importers are still connected with exporters.

“That’s another beauty that we can provide to this platform. The onboarding of a supplier takes months. You need to be able to verify all the information and make sure the supplier meets your criteria and standards.

“Through our platform, you don’t need to do that. You can gather this information. And you can make your decision. So, we also add the trust element between the buyer and the seller,” Karapinar said.

Hawayek also added that Saudi Arabia and the UAE import most of their eggs from Ukraine, and because of the platform, importers could find alternative sources for their products. With a network of over 400 laboratories, the company provides several services through its platform and certification for Halal requirements for certain foods.

“We did more than 10,000 transactions last year; this includes certification testing, inspection, product registration, and supplier audits,” Karapinar added.

With 6,000 traders on the platform, Karapinar stated that the company currently has 1,000 traders on QS Monitor from the Kingdom and is planning to grow that number by a minimum of five times.

In addition, the company is currently in series A funding stage and is on its way to raising $8 million and expanding its staff from 18 to 60 people in the next five months.

QS Monitor also won UAE’s FoodTech Challenge provided by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, which features almost 600 companies.