JBS company initiates construction of world’s largest cultivated beef protein plant

JBS, one of the world’s largest food companies, has begun building the world’s largest cultivated beef protein plant in San Sebastián, Spain.

With an investment of c. US$ 41 million (€38m), the first commercial scale industrial plant of BioTech Foods is expected to be completed in mid-2024. JBS is the majority shareholder of the Spanish company with a 53% ownership stake.

Describing the investment as a milestone in the industry, JBS said the move will help accelerate the development of the cultivated protein market globally. When completed the plant will be capable of producing over 1,000 tons per year, with the potential to reach a production capacity of 4,000 tons per year in the medium-term.

Cultivated protein will further diversify JBS’ portfolio while helping to meet the 135% protein production increase required globally by 2050, according to an FAO estimate.

“As the largest protein producer in the world, it is our responsibility to be at the forefront of any initiatives at the intersection of food and technology. The new BioTech plant puts JBS in a unique position to lead the segment and ride this wave of innovation. The new hub in San Sebastián will allow BioTech Foods to offer cultivated protein as an innovative product that will meet the consumer demand for healthy, tasty, and sustainable food products,” said Eduardo Noronha, JBS USA’s head of value-added business and one of those leading JBS’ global cultivated protein strategy.

The new plant will be built on a 20,000-square metre plot of land, which will enable the facilities to expand and adapt to the needs of a market in constant evolution. BioTech Foods is planning to gradually increase its production capacity to address growing consumer demand. The company has already identified key markets like Australia, Brazil, the European Union, Japan, Singapore and the United States.

With patented bioreactors and technology adapted specifically for producing cultivated protein, the company said the plant will be equipped with the resources for achieving success in this competitive market. Besides the economic impact, the new plant will also deliver social benefits. It is estimated that around 150 jobs will be created, including qualified research and development professionals.

“BioTech Foods has the technology and capacity to produce protein on a large scale in a sustainable and innovative manner, addressing commercial needs around the world. Given the challenges imposed on global supply chains, cultivated protein has the potential to stabilise food security and global protein production,” said Iñigo Charola, cofounder and CEO of BioTech Foods.

JBS is also going to construct a latest generation biotechnology and cultivated protein R&D centre in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, a state in the Southern region of Brazil. The JBS Biotech Innovation Center will receive an estimated $60 million (€56m) investment. The goal is to develop 100% Brazilian cutting-edge technology to produce alternative proteins.

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