JBS is entering the cultivated meat space through the acquisition of Spain's BioTech Foods and a $100 million investment in facilities. The global meat giant plans to use funds to build a new production plant in Spain for BioTech Foods and a cultivated meat research and development center in its home country of Brazil.
The Brazilian R&D center is slated to open next year. It will be led by two of the country's top specialists in bioengineering, and in a second phase, will feature a 10,000-square-meter (32,808-square-foot) plant. It will employ about 25 researchers and work to develop new technologies for the industry.
BioTech Foods, based in San Sebastián, Spain, was founded in 2017. The company, which is working on a cell-based pork product called Ethicameat, is the lead company in a European Union project called Meat4All.
Many multinational food companies have partnered with cell-based meat companies — including Nestlé, Nomad Foods and Mitsubishi Corporation—but this is the first acquisition by big food in the space.
"This acquisition strengthens our strategy of innovation, from how we develop new products to how we commercialize them, to address the growing global demand for food," Gilberto Tomazoni, global JBS CEO, said in a statement. "Combining technological know-how with our production capacity, we will be in a position to accelerate the development of the cultivated protein market."
JBS has production units and offices on nearly all continents and products in 190 countries worldwide. The company has gotten deeply involved in plant-based meat, starting the Planterra division in the U.S. and the Incrível line in Brazil. JBS also acquired Vivera, Europe's third largest plant-based food producer, in April. Cell-based meat is the next frontier for the company to tackle.