USA – Brazilian multinational meat processing company JBS, has launched a cell-based beef facility in San Sebastián, Spain, to diversify its meat portfolio and accelerate cell-based innovation amid growing global protein demand.

According to JBS, the facility is part of a joint venture between JBS and Biotech Foods, a Spanish company that specializes in cultivated protein and in which JBS holds a 53% stake.

“The plant will have an initial production capacity of over 1,000 metric tons per year, which it says could increase to 4,000 metric tons per year in the future,” JBS said.

“The new facility will cover an area of 20,000 square meters and create about 150 jobs, mostly in research and development.”

The plant, which will cost around US$41 million, is expected to be operational by mid-2024 and will reportedly be the largest of its kind in the world.

“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,” said Eduardo Noronha, JBS USA’s head of value-added business.

“The new BioTech plant puts JBS in a unique position to lead the segment and ride this wave of innovation.” 

He added that 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.

In addition, JBS highlighted the need to increase its alternative proteins portfolio as the global demand for protein is projected to increase by 135% by 2050, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 FAO also estimated that market penetration of alternative proteins will rise from 2% to between 10% and 22% by 2035. 

“Given the challenges imposed on global supply chains, cultivated protein has the potential to stabilize food security and global protein production,”  Iñigo Charola, co-founder and CEO at BioTech Foods noted.

Moreover, according to FAO, the global population is rising at the same time as the per capita demand for protein, meaning there are more people who want more protein.

In a recent consumer survey, Innova Market Insights showed that foods with plant and non-animal protein launches are growing in all regions led by Asia’s 10.7% growth between H2 2021 to H1 2022.

Meanwhile, BioTech Foods is currently planning to increase its production capacity gradually. The company has identified Australia, Brazil, the EU, Japan, Singapore and the US as key markets for the business to tap in the future.

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