World’s largest oil company, owned by Saudi Arabia, invests in food
Saudi Aramco is investing in what many people consider to be the food of the future: hydroponics. Hydroponics means growing food crops like lettuce and fresh herbs (it started with cannabis in Canada) using a water-based medium and adding nutrients to a closed-loop system based on plastic pipes. plastic. Hydroponics works well for growing cannabis where the cost of the product is high, but its application to foods such as lettuce and fresh herbs is still contested as a viable business model.
Investors with cash to spare are trying their hand at hydroponics: Saudi Aramco led an $18.5 million investment round with the The Savola Group will develop soilless agriculture in Red Sea farms in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is a Saudi Arabian state-owned oil and natural gas company based in Dhahran. As of 2020, it is one of the largest companies in the world by revenue. It is 95% owned by the Saudi government led by the Saud family.
The Red Sea Farms is an agri-tech company jointly owned by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that uses less fresh water than traditional farming through hydroponics, an approach to farming that still requires heavy reliance to synthetic fertilizers to work.
Red Sea Farms is building an indoor farm to sustainably feed Red Sea Project customers and be the main supplier to the destination’s luxury resort; it has partnered with Silal in the United Arab Emirates to deploy new technologies for sustainable agriculture in the desert.
In January 2022, Red Sea Farms expanded into the United States and recently completed a new 6-hectare commercial-scale technology upgrade site near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and an R&D facility at the University of King Abdullah Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia – where technologies are delivering results ahead of expectations.
The Red Sea Project is the most ambitious tourism project in the world, offering an exclusive experience of unparalleled diversity to discerning international travelers. The site encompasses an archipelago of over 90 unspoilt islands, miles of vast deserts and dramatic mountain scenery.
Red Sea Farms, which will supply food to the Red Sea Project, has raised a total of USD $36.5 million to date.
I was at a luxury, sustainable resort in Thailand called Keemala that offered hydroponic food to its guests. A look under the hood in the garden and I could see the hydroponics was barely working. Good in theory, in practice very hard to do without the right supervision.
For Red Sea Farms, the recent fundraising was co-led by Wa’ed – the venture capital arm of Saudi Aramco and The Savola Group – the leading strategic food and retail investment holding group. retail in the MENA region, through their corporate venture capital program. KAUST Innovation Fund, an early investor in Red Sea Farms, also participates, alongside OlsonUbben LLC, an investment entity owned by Tony Olson and Jeffrey Ubben. Tony Olson is the CEO of SPINS, a wellness-focused data company and advocate for the natural products industry, and Jeffrey Ubben is the founder and managing partner of Inclusive Capital Partners and an investing pioneer impact.
Proceeds will support Red Sea Farms’ global and regional expansion plans, including expanding the fresh produce business in the GCC. The global expansion is focused on technology development and productization – with first-generation product sales expected by Q4 2022.
::Red Sea Farms