Saudi Arabia’s “vegan prince” is set to get a prime cut of the profits from his investment in a start-up producing meat made from cultivated animal cells.
The US government this month approved the sale of Upside Foods products to American consumers.
“Sometimes when you talk to an entrepreneur, you know,” Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud told AGBI of his first meeting in New York with the start-up’s founder Uma Valeti in 2017.
From vegan ice cream to plant-based pet food, the Saudi prince, who is founder of KBW Ventures in Dubai, has a history of backing start-ups that aim to disrupt the status quo.
Cell-cultivated meat involves the manufacturing of chicken or beef without the need to slaughter live animals.
It is often referred to as lab-grown, or “no-kill” meat by the mainstream media.
Upside Foods, which started out as Memphis Meats, raised $17 million in its first round of fundraising in 2017.
Backers included Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jack Welch, Kimbal Musk – the South African chef, entrepreneur and brother of Elon – and food conglomerate Cargill, one of the largest companies in the US.
“We knew that it was founded with purpose and we knew that the science would advance quickly with the right resources,” Prince Khalid said.
Rebranded as Upside Foods last year, the Californian company had a major breakthrough this month when its cell-grown beef and chicken meat was approved for sale by both the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture, and has raised nearly $600 million in funding from 41 investors since it was founded in 2015.
ResearchAndMarkets.com estimates the global cell-grown meat sector will grow at an annual rate of 24.1 per cent to be worth $2 billion by 2035.