Unibio looks to build single cell protein plant in Saudi Arabia

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Unibio CEO and SAGIA representatives sign MOU in relation to kick-starting single cell protein (SCP) production in Saudi Arabia
Unibio CEO and SAGIA representatives sign MOU in relation to kick-starting single cell protein (SCP) production in Saudi Arabia

Related tags Single cell protein Saudi arabia Fish feed Poultry water resources

Single cell protein (SCP) producer, Unibio, said it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the General Investment Authority of Saudi Arabia (SAGIA) to initiate a project to produce feed proteins from methane gas in that market.

Unibio Group CEO, Henrik Busch-Larsen, said the intention is to establish a SCP production facility in Saudi Arabia.

In terms of when construction of such a plant using Unibio technology would likely get underway, Busch-Larsen indicated it would start in the second half of 2020.

Construction of the factory would take 18-24 months from groundbreaking, he said.

“We are currently looking at two potential locations - one site on the east coast and another one on the west coast. The final decision is expected within a few months,”​ he told FeedNavigator.

The anticipated capacity for the facility is 50,000 tons per year, he added.

The Uniprotein produced will be used as protein ingredient for the local production of animal and fish feed but will also be exported to Asian markets.

Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision looks to transform its future economy, part of that will be in achieving food security. The Danish company said it has partnered up with Edhafat and other local stakeholders in that respect.

Food security challenges 

In a region that may be affected by changing weather and without much fertile agricultural land as well as limited water resources, bringing in technology to address future food security challenges is key, said the Unibio CEO.

By using local resources such as natural gas, cheap electricity and chemicals, proteins can be produced without adding stress to the agricultural system or fish stock, said the Danish group. The Unibio technology allows the decoupling of protein production from farming and fishing, and it fits in with Saudi Arabia’s ambition to increase aquaculture and milk production, it added.

Single cell protein production in Saudi Arabia would give the Kingdom a sustainable and economically viable source of animal feed products, commented Ibrahim Al Omar, governor of SAGIA.

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

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