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Saudi prince backs US lamb-flavoured plant startup

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed's KBW Ventures invests in vegan enterprises
  • Black Sheep Foods has raised $18.05m so far for its plant-based meat
  • Prince Khaled’s VC firm has invested in various food tech startups

KBW Ventures, the venture capital firm founded by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, was one of the prime investors in a $12.3 million fundraising round by a San Francisco-based foodtech startup developing plant-based meat products that taste like lamb.

Founded in 2019, Black Sheep Foods also attracted investment from other US-based plant-based venture veterans such as Bessemer Ventures Partners, AgFunder and Unovis, which previously invested in popular brand name Beyond Meat.

The company has raised a total of $18.05 million in funding over the past three years and its core aim is to develop plant-based meat products that taste as close to the original version as possible.

“Our minds associate meat with a shape, a texture, and a flavour,” Sunny Kumar, CEO and co-founder of Black Sheep Foods, said in a press statement.

“While texture has been the focus of meat innovation, flavour is a white space. Our debut lamb made from plants has more depth of flavour, richness and appetising aromatics than other meats, full stop.”

Prince Khaled said he ‘couldn’t believe the authentic mouthfeel and flavour’ of Black Sheep’s plant-based food. Picture: Supplied

Research by IndexBox found that the Middle East lamb and sheep market was worth about $7.8 billion in 2019 and growing at around two percent per annum. The Gulf states, Yemen, Iraq and Jordan make up about a third of sales.

Prince Khaled praised Black Sheep Foods’ ability to make its plant-based products taste like lamb meat.

“As someone who has grown up with this taste profile, I couldn’t believe the authentic mouthfeel and flavour. With taste being a vital aspect of customer adoption, Black Sheep Foods will easily dominate among plant-based meats,” he said. 

KBW Ventures is headquartered in San Mateo, California, has offices in Riyadh, Dubai, Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and invests in companies with transformative technologies and business models.

Its portfolio of investments includes the Colorado-based pet food firm Bond Pet Foods, Hawaiian-based vegan jerky company Moku Foods, US-based cellular agriculture seafood company BlueNalu and Californian food tech company Upside Foods.

Earlier this year, the company also invested in California-based Eclipse Foods, which is aiming to become the world’s first true plant-based dairy replacement producer.

Black Sheep Foods founders Sunny Kumar (left) and Ismael Montanez

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