Israeli cultured meat company Aleph Farms has announced that it has received approval from the Ministry of Health in Israel to market its cultured beef products. Cultured meat is grown in laboratories from culture cells without rearing livestock. This is the first such approval in Israel and one of the first in the world for cultured meat to be sold commercially.
Aleph Farms still has to receive approval for its production line with procedures expected to be completed in the coming few months so that the products will be available for sale by mid-2024. In the first stage, the company will sell only to a small number of restaurants to prices similar to prime cut premium steaks says Aleph Farms CEO Didier Toubia.
The company does not expect to be profitable soon
Beef makes up only about 20% of the company's first product, and the texture is also provided by soy and wheat. Even so, the production costs are very high, and the company does not expect to be profitable anytime soon. "We will reach reasonable prices, even if it takes us some time," says Toubia. "We did not found the company to create a solution for the rich."
The approval makes Israel not only one of the world's pioneers in the production of cultured meat in the world, but also one of the first countries to approve such meat for use. So far, such products have only been approved in Singapore and the US. The two products approved so far, Toubia says, were chicken products made by US companies. "Our product is unique among the approved products because it is a beef product with the texture of a steak with our cells that are not genetically modified and have not undergone processes that cause them to be living. Our cells are natural."
Toubia added, "Despite all the difficulty of running a company in Israel, we are leaders and can bring solutions that will give the country food independence and can also influence regional cooperation. We work quite a bit with the UAE, and this work has not been harmed as a result of the war. Cultured meat can grow regardless of the amount of water or the amount of fertile land in the country, and is therefore very suitable for the Middle East region, and for the threats of the climate crisis. If this is my contribution to humanity, I will be very happy."
Set to raise money before the war but delayed the financing
Aleph Farms was founded based on the research of Prof. Shulamit Levenberg of the Technion and is managed by CEO Toubia, who is one of the cofounders. The company was founded in The Kitchen food-tech incubator and has raised $140 millionm from Peregrine Ventures, Strauss, Millennium Food Tech (TASE: MIFT), Singapore's VisVires New Protein Fund, which invests in alternative proteins, food company Thai Union and others.
Toubia says that the company had been set to raise money before the war but postponed it. He says, "We currently have enough money, and since we were going abroad, now may not be exactly the time to get the most out of fund raising for an Israeli company. We are trying to be focused now and proceed cautiously. The approval we received now, and especially for commercial activity, can help us maximize our success in the next financing round, when we go for it."
The company has more products undergoing regulatory approval procedures in Singapore, the US, UK, and Switzerland.
Israel's Ministry of Health said, "The approval has been awarded as part of a pilot program of the Ministry with the Innovation Authority to examine alternative proteins, which is undertaken with the Department for Managing Risks in Food of the Ministry of Health's National Food Service. Cultured beef is defined as "new food" and so requires a complex and individual approval procedure."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 17, 2024.
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