New Huon owner JBS enters cultivated meat market in Europe

Huon Aquaculture owner JBS is entering the cultivated meat market.

Huon Aquaculture owner JBS is entering the cultivated meat market.

In late October, Huon shareholders approved a takeover bid by JBS Australia, a subsidiary of Sao Paulo, Brazil-based JBS, the world’s largest meatpacking firm.

On 18 November, JBS entered into an agreement to acquire control of Spanish company BioTech Foods, a developer of biotechnology for producing cultivated protein. The company will spend USD 100 million (EUR 88 million) to build a new plant in Spain to scale up production and will establish Brazil’s first cultivated protein research and development (R&D) center. 

BioTech Foods operates a pilot plant in the city of San Sebastián and expects to reach commercial production in mid-2024 with the addition of its new production facility. JBS’s investment in the new facilities is estimated at USD 41 million (EUR 36 million). 

The acquisition is a sign meat companies see a strong future for cultivated meat and other meat alternatives, Packaged Facts Analyst Cara Rasch said in a separate press release.

“By making its first investment in cultivated meat, JBS is signaling that the meat industry sees the shift coming and is preparing for this new market,” she said.

JBS previously made a foray into meat alternatives with the launch of plant-based meat products under its subsidiary Planterra Foods in 2020 and the purchase of Vivera in April 2021, Rasch said.

As technology advances, more cultivated meat companies are cropping up and achieving significant investments from venture capital funds and other investors due to an anticipated potential for a market worth billions of dollars, Rasch said.

"Cultivated meat products have yet to hit the U.S. market, but a number of companies in this space have already raised millions of dollars in funding,” she said.

According to the Packaged Facts National Online Consumer Survey, which concluded in November 2021, 9 percent of respondents indicated they were currently following vegetarian and vegan philosophies. An additional 23 percent said they were flexitarians – omnivores actively and consciously incorporating vegetarian and vegan meals into their diet.

“This large and growing segment indicates that even meat eaters are open to and looking for alternatives to meat, either for health, environmental, or animal welfare reasons,” Packaged Facts said.

Several cell-based seafood companies have emerged in the United States, including BlueNalu, Wildtype, Finless Foods, and Cultured Decadence, and internationally, Singapore-based Shiok Meats and Bluu Biosciences in Germany are also developing cell-based seafood products.

Photo courtesy of JBS


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