Muscat: Pertaining to its role in attracting foreign investment, building strategic partnerships and bringing advanced modern technologies to the country, Oman Investment Authority (OIA) launched a new project to produce mushroom-based protein using dates as the main element, in collaboration with international partners; most predominantly, US company ‘MycoTechnology’.
This partnership came in the heels of OIA’s investment in MycoTechnology, a US company founded in 2013. MycoTechnology is a leading US food biotechnology company focused on the production of alternative protein and sugar reduction ingredients.
The company has successfully established its fermentation technology platform producing a variety of ingredients that address some of the food industry’s most pressing challenges. OIA and MycoTechnology announced the establishment of 'Vital Foods Technologies' to complete the feasibility study of a large scale production facility in Oman.
The partnership was announced at the ‘Future of Food’ event organised by OIA and MycoTechnology to introduce the promising capabilities of this project, which already underwent several successful techno-economic studies.
The event witnessed the formal signing between OIA and MycoTechnology to establish Vital Foods Technologies and was attended by several senior government officials, senior corporate executives, representatives of companies and funds investing in the food sector, and MycoTechnology representatives. Attendees were served a Southeast Asian menu with dishes composed of alternative protein.
From this partnership, OIA seeks to enhance food security, achieve national sufficiency and attract international expertise to be utilised in local projects. The outcome of this partnership is hoped to achieve economic diversity, create direct and indirect job opportunities and create opportunities for Omani SMEs.
“This innovative project represents the benefits OIA can reap from international investments, whereafter it attracts its international partners to establish their projects in Oman and to transfer and bring advanced modern technologies to the country,” stated Ibrahim Al-Eisri, Director of Private Equity at Oman Investment Authority.
“Through its investment in the food production sector, OIA is exploring promising investment opportunities that can succeed in the backdrop of Oman’s climate and benefit the national economy. Such investment is set to deliver return on investments, improve the trade balance, substitute food import in light of international price discrepancies, provide job opportunities in the food production sector both directly or indirectly, and provide a high-quality product that meets the consumers’ needs,” he added.
“Oman produces about 400m MT per year, and over 50 per cent is not suitable for table dates and can be made available to produce Mushroom Protein” Alan Hahn, CEO and Founder of MycoTechnology, said.
“Regional markets for alternative products are promising with Mena current market for alternative dairy at $1.2b with a 12 per cent CAGR and is expected to reach at least $3 billion. Mena current market of alternative meat is $180 million with a 10 per cent CAGR. Export opportunities are huge with India representing the largest opportunity with their 1.3 billion population. Imported products are approximately 200 per cent of the cost of similar products in the US/EU and having the protein and finished product produced in Oman will allow for the lowest cost in the region. This cost advantage allows for new local brands to emerge and leverage the domestic production and the use of such a well-known and respected crops of dates as the source of protein,” he added.
The alternative food industry has strongly imposed itself in the international playing field recently. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the plant-based food market is set to reach $162 billion in value by the year 2030, as opposed to $29.4 billion in 2020. On the regional front, it is estimated that 15-20 per cent of animal-based protein will be replaced by plant-based protein by 2025.
This company is set to be the new investment in a line of OIA’s local investments in the food industry. In Oman, this vital industry is overseen by state-owned company Oman Food Investment Holding Co. (OFIC). OFIC was established to build relations with investors, create a strong and safe climate for investments, provide consultancy and guidance for upcoming investments in the food industry and bring back revenue to the state in the long run. OIA also owns Fisheries Development Oman (FDO) which was established to develop the fisheries sector in the country through investing in profitable commercial projects that enhance the value of the fisheries sector in the country.
It also contributes to the national economy via investing in local and international opportunities that aim to lead the fisheries sector to a profitable and sustainable international sector using the competitive edge of the Sultanate in international markets. FDO aims to realise its vision by stimulating Oman’s economy, founding attractive investment opportunities for investors and financiers, nationalising the value chain through supporting SMEs, and enhancing the in-country value.