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)
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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.

 


Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Binance wins crypto clients due to inflation

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Binance wins crypto clients due to inflation
Updated 16 sec ago

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Binance wins crypto clients due to inflation

Crypto Moves – Bitcoin and Ethereum rise; Binance wins crypto clients due to inflation

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Thursday, rising by 6.13 percent to $24,406 as of 7:46 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ethereum, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,886 rising by 12.09 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Binance wins crypto clients due to inflation

A high dollar and rising inflation, coupled with a depressed emerging market currency, are causing Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, to experience an uptick in clients, according to Reuters.

Maximiliano Hinz, who heads Binance in Latin America told Reuters: “Now that we are seeing inflation ramping up worldwide, we are seeing that more and more people are seeking cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, as a way to protect themselves from inflation.”

As an example, Hinz cited Argentina, where annual inflation is 90 percent. Together with Brazil and Mexico, the country has become one of the company’s top markets.

A fall in cryptocurrency prices did not stop Argentina’s citizens from investing their savings in Bitcoin this year.

Hinz said that while El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as legal tender, other Latin American nations have not passed meaningful cryptocurrency laws, although that may not necessarily be bad for his company.

“Regulation is a framework, but it’s not always negative that something isn’t regulated,” he said. “If something isn’t banned, then it’s legal.”

As a result of President Nayib Bukele’s massive bet on Bitcoin, El Salvador has made the cryptocurrency legal tender and purchased more than $100 million worth of it.

However, Bitcoin has lost about 50 percent of its value amid a broader cryptocurrency selloff.

Cryptocurrencies have important roles in the metaverse, Bank of England Analysts say

Bank of England’s analysts said crypto assets could have important roles within the metaverse, according to Bitcoin.com.

They added that, “widespread adoption of crypto in the metaverse … would require compliance with robust consumer protection and financial stability regulatory frameworks.”

In a blog post published Tuesday, economist Owen Lock and policy analyst Teresa Cascino discussed crypto assets, the metaverse, and systemic risk.

“Cryptoassets could have important roles within the metaverse,” the blog said.

The risks associated with crypto assets may scale up to have a systemic financial stability impact if an open and decentralized metaverse grows.

“Widespread adoption of crypto in the metaverse, or any other setting would require compliance with robust consumer protection and financial stability regulatory frameworks,” they said.

In order for the open metaverse to exist, there needs to be a way to own and transact interoperable digital objects between virtual worlds, Lock and Cascino explained, noting that “cryptoassets are well suited to play an important role here.”

“If a sizable open-metaverse materialized, households may hold a greater share of their wealth in crypto assets to make metaverse-based payments or for investment purposes,” they said.

A growing open-metaverse may improve the investment prospects of crypto assets and their supporting infrastructure, according to the authors.


Oil Updates — Crude slips; DNO raises its Tawke output forecast; Brazil’s Bolsonaro mum on Petrobras privatization

Oil Updates — Crude slips; DNO raises its Tawke output forecast; Brazil’s Bolsonaro mum on Petrobras privatization
Updated 2 min 28 sec ago

Oil Updates — Crude slips; DNO raises its Tawke output forecast; Brazil’s Bolsonaro mum on Petrobras privatization

Oil Updates — Crude slips; DNO raises its Tawke output forecast; Brazil’s Bolsonaro mum on Petrobras privatization

RIYADH: Oil prices slipped in Asia on Thursday after gaining more than $1 in the previous session, as concerns over supply disruptions eased and markets looked for evidence of improving fuel demand.

Brent crude futures dipped 18 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $97.22 a barrel by 0419 GMT. 

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 22 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $91.71.

Norway’s DNO raises its Tawke output forecast

Norwegian oil firm DNO raised its guidance on Monday for output from Iraq’s Tawke license and said the company now has more cash on its hands than debt for the first time since 2018.

Gross output from Tawke, located in the Iraqi Kurdish region, is now projected at between 107,000 and 109,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2022, up from a previous forecast of 105,000 boed, the company said in a statement.

“DNO is committed to put its capital to work in its core competency and capture new opportunities created as peers and even some of the largest European companies scale back spending,” Executive Chairman Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani said.

“We believe in the oil and gas business and in our responsibility to all stakeholders, including host governments who want to capitalize on current prices and consumers who now call for more production, not less,” he said.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro pledges privatizations if re-elected

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro did not mention privatizing state-controlled oil company Petrobras in his re-election plan released on Wednesday that promises to continue pursuing policies that reduce the size of the state.

“The government ... will proceed with reordering the state’s role in the economy, through privatization and divestment of state-owned companies, to focus on state participation in essential activities and in promoting Brazil’s economic, social and sustainable development,” the plan said.

The document contrasts with his 2018 election plan that dedicated specific pages to Petrobras. The company was not even mentioned this time, despite Mines and Energy Ministry Adolfo Sachsida requesting its privatization be studied. 

(With input from Reuters)


Commodities Update — Gold slips; Corn, wheat fall; Argentina forecasts corn harvest at 55m tons

Commodities Update — Gold slips; Corn, wheat fall; Argentina forecasts corn harvest at 55m tons
Updated 18 min 25 sec ago

Commodities Update — Gold slips; Corn, wheat fall; Argentina forecasts corn harvest at 55m tons

Commodities Update — Gold slips; Corn, wheat fall; Argentina forecasts corn harvest at 55m tons

RIYADH: Gold prices fell on Thursday as the US dollar and Treasury yields rebounded after comments by Federal Reserve officials pointed toward further interest rate hikes, despite signs of slowing inflation in the world’s largest economy.

Spot gold was down 0.3 percent at $1,786.17 per ounce, as of 0422 GMT, after hitting its highest since July 5 at $1,807.79 on Wednesday.

US gold futures dipped 0.6 percent to $1,802.10.

Grains fall

Chicago corn and wheat futures retreated on Thursday after hitting more than one-week highs in the previous session on concerns over hot and dry weather conditions in key exporting countries.

Soybeans lost ground after closing almost unchanged on Wednesday.

The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board of Trade was down 0.4 percent at $6.15-3/4 a bushel, as of 0049 GMT, and wheat fell 0.5 percent to $7.95-1/2 a bushel.

Soybeans slid 0.3 percent to $14.23-1/4 a bushel.

Argentine 2022/23 corn harvest seen at 55 million tons

Argentina’s corn harvest for the 2022/23 season is expected to be around 55 million tons, the Rosario Grains Exchange said on Wednesday.

Additionally, the exchange forecast soy production of 47 million tons for the 2022/23 season.

Argentina is a major world supplier of wheat and the second largest exporter of corn.

The exchange said it expects the country’s corn planting area to fall by 4.7 percent to 8 million hectares.

Copper up

Copper prices climbed on Thursday to their highest in nearly six weeks, as lower-than-expected US inflation eased worries of aggressive rate hikes that could hurt growth and metals demand.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.1 percent to $8,090 a ton at 0300 GMT, while the most-traded August copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 1.3 percent to $9,215.37 a ton. 

(With input from Reuters)


Air India plans more UAE, Qatar flights as FIFA World Cup frenzy picks up

Air India plans more UAE, Qatar flights as FIFA World Cup frenzy picks up
Updated 35 min 13 sec ago

Air India plans more UAE, Qatar flights as FIFA World Cup frenzy picks up

Air India plans more UAE, Qatar flights as FIFA World Cup frenzy picks up
  • About 1.5 million fans are expected to arrive in Qatar for the world’s biggest football tournament

DUBAI: Tata-owned Air India plans to offer more flights to the UAE and Qatar as the FIFA World Cup frenzy culminates with the opening of the quadrennial football event in November, UAE daily Gulf News reported.

About 1.5 million fans are expected to arrive in Qatar for the world’s biggest football tournament.

The carrier said it will add four weekly flights between Dubai and Kolkata once the winter schedule starts Oct. 22.

Air India will deploy its Airbus A320Neo single-aisle aircraft, which has a capacity of 12 business-class seats and 150 economy seats.

It is currently operating 69 weekly flights to Dubai.

Additional frequencies to Qatar meanwhile could be determined later this month when flight slots to the World Cup host become clearer.

Air India is currently selling discounted one-way flight fares for passengers departing from its Gulf network to celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day. These seats are available until Aug. 21 on a limited basis and are valid for travel until Oct. 15 this year.

India’s aviation authority meanwhile is lifting the caps on air fares in the country from Aug. 31 as the domestic segment continues its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“After review of the current status of scheduled domestic operations viz-a-viz passenger demand for air travel… it has been decided to remove the fare bands notified from time to time regarding airfares with effect from 31.08.2022,” Satyendra Kumar Mishra, joint secretary for civil aviation ministry, said in his order issued on Wednesday.

“The airlines/operators shall, however, ensure that the guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19 are strictly adhered to and COVID-19 appropriate behavior is strictly enforced by them during the travel,” he added.

The limits on capacity and fares were imposed in May 2020, as air travel was reopened after a nationwide lockdown, mainly to prevent a spike in ticket prices due to increased demand for flights as movement restrictions were eased.

Under the existing policy, tickets sold in 0-15 days on a rolling basis must be priced within the minimum and maximum band, although airlines are free to set their own fares for journeys beyond 15 days.


Saudi markets starts higher as wave of earnings reports lift stocks: Opening bell

Saudi markets starts higher as wave of earnings reports lift stocks: Opening bell
Updated 41 min 2 sec ago

Saudi markets starts higher as wave of earnings reports lift stocks: Opening bell

Saudi markets starts higher as wave of earnings reports lift stocks: Opening bell

 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index started the week’s final session higher as investors digest another wave of corporate earnings results for the first half.

TASI edged 0.39 percent higher at 12,479, while the parallel Nomu market added 0.15 percent at 22,261, as of 10:07 a.m. Saudi time.

Astra Industrial Group climbed 4.39 percent to lead the gainers, after its first-half profit soared 202 percent to SR318 million ($85 million).

Saudi Co. for Hardware slipped 3.56 percent to lead the fallers, after it turned into losses of SR19 million during the first half of 2022.

ACWA Power added 1.15 percent, after it recorded a 21 percent jump in profits to SR542 million for the first half of 2022.

Saudi Arabian Mining Co., better known as Ma’aden, gained 2.18 percent, after its first-half profit soared 232 percent to SR6.2 billion.

Saudi Vitrified Clay Pipes Co. declined 1.53 percent, after its net losses widened by 661 percent to SR9 million during the first half of 2022.

Saudi Industrial Services Co. shed 1.39 percent, after earning SR3.9 million in the first half of 2022, down 93 percent from the same period last year.

Saudi Electricity Co. rose 0.39 percent, after it obtained an international syndicated loan of $3 billion.

Eastern Province Cement Co. gained 0.55 percent, despite a 41 percent drop in profit to SR72 million in the first half.

Savola Group added 0.59 percent, after it entered an SR459 million agreement to sell its shares in Knowledge Economic City Co. and Knowledge Economic City Developers Co. Limited.

Following the announcement, shares of  Knowledge Economic City increased by 1.10 percent.

The Kingdom’s largest valued bank Al Rajhi added 1.03 percent, while the Kingdom’s oil giant Saudi Aramco started the day with a 0.25 percent increase.