Unibio, Edhafat, Sagia ink $200m MoU for Saudi Uniprotein plant

The Danish biotechnology firm's plant will convert natural gas into high-protein livestock feed in Saudi Arabia

Unibio will produce Uniprotein in Saudi Arabia.
Agerbaekfoto / Unibio / Archives
Unibio will produce Uniprotein in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia) has signed a $200m (SAR750m) memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Denmark-based biotechnology firm Unibio, along with its local Saudi Arabian partner Edhafat, as part of which the Danish firm will build a facility that will use its patented fermentation process to convert natural gas into high-protein livestock feed, named Uniprotein, that will be used as protein ingredient for the local production of animal and fish feed and initially, for exports as well.

Uniprotein works by decoupling protein production from the fluctuating agricultural sector and stressed fishing industries, which means cropland can be used to produce food for humans instead of feed for animals, the Danish company said in a statement.

The project is expected to create added value and encourage the transfer of knowledge in Saudi Arabia's chemicals sector, which is expected to double in value as part of the kingdom's Vision 2030 economic diversification plan. 

By using natural gas, cost-effective electricity, and chemicals, proteins can be produced without adding stress to the agricultural system or fish stock.

The MoU's $200m value was reported by Saudi Arabia's state news agency, SPA.

The MoU was signed during a ceremony in Riyadh attended by governor of Sagia, HE Ibrahim Al Omar; deputy governor for investment attraction and development at Sagia, Sultan Mofti; managing director of Sagia's petrochemical, oil, and gas sector, Ahmad AlAbedi; Unibio’s chief executive officer, Henrik Busch-Larsen; Edhafat’s CEO, Dr Nasser bin Kadasah; and head of trade at the Royal Danish Embassy in Riyadh, Ture Vahan Munksgaard.

Commenting on the project, Al Omar said: “With a growing population, this project represents an important step towards achieving food security for the kingdom by providing a sustainable and economically viable source of animal feed products.

"The importance of this project is that it uses a clean and abundant natural source in the kingdom, and produces a high-quality protein supplements to feed fish, poultry and livestock, in addition to the transfer of advanced technology to the kingdom.”

Unibio's Busch-Larsen added: “Most people envision Saudi Arabia as a country of oil and gas with limited agricultural output, but what may still be fairly unknown to most people is the Vision 2030 of the country to transform the economy for the future

"We are very pleased to sign an MoU with an important governmental organisation such as Sagia as well as partnering up with Edhafat and other local stakeholders in our effort to participate in the development on the Saudi Arabian economy, bringing investments, jobs, and a profitable business opportunity to the kingdom.”

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