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Global meat producer JBS starts construction of world’s largest cultivated beef plant in Spain

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Stef Bottinelli
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Cultivated meat in a petri dish

JBS, one of the world’s largest food companies and meat producer, has begun building what it says is the world’s largest plant for the production of cultivated beef.
With an investment of around $41 million, the first commercial scale industrial plant of BioTech Foods is being build in San Sebastián, Spain and is due to be completed in mid-2024.
Brazilian company JBS is the majority shareholder of Spanish cultured meat start-up BioTech Foods, having acquired a 53% ownership stake.

The investment is expected to help accelerate the development of the cultivated protein market globally. When completed the facility will be capable of producing over 1,000 tons of cultured beef per year, with the potential to reach a production capacity of 4,000 tons yearly in the medium-term.

 Eduardo Noronha, JBS USA’s Head of Value-Added Business and one of those leading JBS’ global cultivated protein strategy, commented: “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.

The new plant will be built on a 20,000-square metre plot of land, which will enable the facilities to expand further should the cultured meat market take off. 

The San Sebastián facility will boast patented bioreactors and cutting-edge technology and, once functional, JBS and BioTech Foods estimate it will employ around 150 people.

 Iñigo Charola, cofounder and CEO of BioTech Foods said: “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 stabilize food security and global protein production.”

JBS also plans to build The JBS Biotech Innovation Center, a cultivated protein R&D centre in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, in Southern Brazil. The facility is expected to receive an estimated $60 million investment and its aim is to develop 100% Brazilian cutting-edge technology to produce alternative proteins.

Cultivated meat is currently only approved for human consumption in Singapore, however the FDA recently issued No Question letters to GOOD Meat, Upside Foods and Remilk, signalling a move to soon approve cultured products in the USA.

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