BRAZIL – Meat industry giant JBS has embarked on the construction of a cutting-edge Research and Development (R&D) facility focused on advancing cell-based protein technology.

This move marks JBS’s latest substantial investment in the burgeoning field of cell-cultivated meat, intending to enhance production efficiency, scalability, and economic viability.

The newly established Biotech Innovation Centre is set to be situated within the innovative enclave of Sapiens Parque in Florianópolis, a city located in south-eastern Brazil.

Anticipated to open its doors towards the end of the coming year, this facility is poised to become the country’s largest hub for food biotechnology research.

According to JBS, the centre’s development will necessitate an investment of approximately US$62 million, allocated across three stages.

The third phase will involve the construction of an industrial-scale module designed to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of producing cultured protein.

JBS, headquartered in Brazil, first signalled its interest in the emerging cell-cultivated meat market in 2021 when it acquired a majority stake in the Spanish-cultivated protein firm, BioTech Foods.

The strategic move provided JBS with access to BioTech’s cutting-edge technology and protein production capabilities.

Subsequently, it paved the way for the establishment of the world’s largest cultivated beef protein plant in San Sebastián, Spain, earlier this year.

Notably, JBS is not the only major player in the meat industry to invest in the nascent cell-protein sector. Industry titans such as Cargill and Tyson Foods have also demonstrated their commitment by taking stakes in promising startups.

Both companies have invested in Memphis Meats, now rebranded as Upside Foods, while Cargill has backed Aleph Farms, and Tyson has contributed funds to Future Meat Technologies, now known as Believer Meats.

In addition, the United States and Singapore have granted regulatory approval for the commercial sale of cell-based meat with only a select number of companies introducing their products in specific restaurant settings.

Nonetheless, despite regulatory challenges slowing down commercialization, the overall investment in cultured protein innovators remains substantial.

According to an analysis by the Good Food Institute, annual investments in cultivated meat and seafood reached US$1.3 billion in 2021 and continued to be robust at US$896 million in 2022.

Meanwhile, JBS’s latest venture into the cell-based meat industry underscored the growing confidence in the potential of cultured proteins to revolutionize the global food supply chain.

With a commitment to enhancing efficiency and competitiveness, JBS is poised to play a pivotal role in the development of this exciting and sustainable sector.

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