By Bernd Debusman Jr, Arabian Business
Start-ups working focused on plant-based food are increasingly being seen as potentially profitable, according to KBW Ventures founder and CEO Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed
Plant-based foods are “picking up steam”, with start-ups in the sector being increasingly recognised as potentially lucrative, according to KBW Ventures founder and CEO Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal al Saud.
A well-known and outspoken proponent of a vegan lifestyle and animal welfare, Prince Khaled’s KBW Ventures has invested in a number of firms focused on plant-based products, including the Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat and Plant Power Fast Food, a San Diego-based company that presents itself as a vegan alternative to McDonald’s.
Additionally, KBW Ventures has tied up with American chef Matthew Kenney to create Folia, a plant-based menu that was launched last year.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Prince Khaled said that plant-based food products are “picking up steam” in the region despite their relative infancy in the Middle East.
“The benefits, including how much better plant-based food is in terms of climate change, are being discussed much more often now in the local media and across social media channels,” he said.
In the past, however, Prince Khaled believes there was a “lag in terms of appreciation” of the potential of plant-based business models.
“Now, these start-ups are recognisable as profit-making endeavours, and plant-based products and foods are also being seen as having a ‘social good’ element, simply because the carbon footprint is better and because the products and food are better for you,” he said.
Prince Khaled added that the success of plant-based products largely rests on education and the availability of information to consumers and potential consumers.
“Only in the past few years has this information been made available in Arabic,” he said. “I had tons of people questioning what I was even talking about in the early days when I would put up a social media post about observing a plant-based lifestyle.”
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.