Meat & Livestock News

JBS Invests in Cultured Protein with New Research Centre

Meat industry leader JBS has initiated the construction of a research and development facility dedicated to advancing cell-based protein. This move signifies JBS’s continued investment in this budding sector. The primary objective of the facility is to enhance the efficiency, scalability, and economic feasibility of cultured protein production.

The Biotech Innovation Centre, Brazil’s largest food biotechnology research hub, will be situated in the Sapiens Parque Innovation Park in Florianópolis. The centre is slated to open its doors by the end of the following year. JBS has allocated an estimated $62 million for the project, to be disbursed in three phases. The final phase will focus on constructing a basic module at an industrial scale to validate cultured protein’s technical and economic potential.

JBS had previously shown its commitment to the cell-cultivated meat market in 2021 by acquiring a significant share in the Spanish protein firm BioTech Foods. This acquisition gave JBS access to BioTech’s innovative technology and protein production capabilities. This collaboration subsequently led to the establishing of the world’s most extensive cultivated beef protein plant in San Sabastián, Spain.

Major meat industry stakeholders, including Cargill and Tyson Foods, have also invested in emerging cell-protein ventures. Presently, only the US and Singapore have approved cell-based meat for commercial distribution, with a limited number of establishments offering these products.

Despite regulatory challenges, investment in cultured protein innovators remains robust. The Good Food Institute data indicates that the annual investment in cultivated meat and seafood was $1.3 billion in 2021, dropping slightly to $896 million in 2022. Market projections for cultivated meat in 2022 estimated that by 2040, it could account for 20% to 35% of the global market.

Experts in the sector remain optimistic about the future of cell-based meat. However, there are concerns about its acceptance in mainstream diets. As Victor Martino, a US industry consultant, pointed out, while the industry has made significant strides, the ultimate decision rests with consumers.