Meatpacker JBS has commenced the construction of a cultivated protein research and development centre, which it says will be the largest research facility focused on food biotechnology in Brazil.
JBS is investing US$22 million (€20.8 million) in the two-phase project, which will see the construction of laboratories in the first and a pilot plant in the second.
Scheduled to open at the end of 2024, the new JBS Biotech Innovation Centre is located at Sapiens Parque innovation hub in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina.
The hub will comprise a team of 25 specialist post-doctoral researchers, as well as staff and clerical support.
Commenting, JBS global supply and innovation director, Jerson Nascimento Jr., said, "As a global leader in protein production, it is our responsibility to be at the forefront of food tech. The JBS Biotech Innovation Centre reinforces our commitment to the cultivated protein sector, consolidates our position as one of the main players in this very promising market, and reinforces our commitment to offering innovative, high-quality products to our consumers."
In total, the JBS Biotech Innovation Centre will require approximately US$62 million (€58.6 million) investment over three phases, the meatpacker noted.
In the third stage, the company aims to build an industrial-scale model to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of cultivated protein.
This project will serve as a model for future plants that JBS may build globally to produce beef and other cultivated protein types, it added.
The facility aims to make the production process for cultivated protein more efficient, scalable and economically competitive.
A team of scientists at the JBS Biotech Innovation Centre has already started work in temporary facilities within Sapiens Parque.
Currently, the team is focusing on exploratory research to better understand beef cell cultivation to set up cultivated beef protein production in the future.
The project is being led by Dr Luismar Marques Porto, president of the company’s cultivated meat division and the JBS Biotech Innovation Centre, and Fernanda Vieira Berti, vice-president of the research centre.
Biotech Foods Investment
In addition to the project in Florianópolis, JBS has a 51% stake in Biotech Foods, a Spanish cultured meat production company. It is currently operating a pilot plant in San Sebastián, in the Basque region.
With an investment of US$41 million (€38.7 million), equivalent to more than R$200 million (€38.1 million), BioTech Foods' first commercial-scale industrial plant is scheduled for completion in mid-2024.
The products will initially reach consumers in the form of prepared foods, such as hamburgers, sausages, meatballs, among others, the company noted.
A recent study from data and analytics firm, GlobalData, found that cultured meat is poised to emerge as a scalable and resource-efficient alternative to conventional meat production, following advancements in cellular techniques, regulatory endorsements, and growing logistical costs.