JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, plans to buy majority ownership in BioTech Foods, a Spanish cultivated meat company, as part of a $100 million investment in the budding sector.
“The acquisition marks the company’s entry into the cultivated protein market,” JBS said in a statement.
JBS processes beef, chicken, and pork, as well as their byproducts. The company generates around $50 billion in revenue annually, according to financial reports. The concept of cultured or cultivated meat is already gaining popularity among the general public.
A total of $41 million will be spent in Spain to construct a manufacturing plant capable of producing 1,000 tonnes of cultivated meat per year. Some of the funds will also be used to establish a cell-cultured meat research and development centre in Brazil.
Cultured meat is biologically identical to meat, but it can be produced without slaughtering living creatures. In addition, it can be made with far limited resources, such as land, water, and animal feed, than regular meat.
The industry is still in its early stages, but it is gaining traction. In fact, last year, $366 million was invested in the cultivated meat sector.
However, it isn’t JBS’ first exploration into meat substitutes, though. JBS’s own plant-based food chain, Planterra, makes meatless burgers, ground beef, and meatballs. In April, JBS also paid $409 million for the Dutch plant-based protein brand Vivera. In addition, it created the “world’s first” vegan steak in 2018.
“This acquisition is an important step to strengthen our global plant-based protein platform. Vivera will give JBS a stronghold in the plant-based sector, with technological knowledge and capacity for innovation.” Gilberto Tomazoni, the global CEO of JBS, stated.
The arrival on the market of the world’s largest meat processing and packing company is a watershed moment for the cultivated meat industry, which has recently faced increased doubts about its economic viability.
“When we enter a business, it is to have a leadership position,” Tomazoni said.