JBS Australia’s parent company JBS S.A. will invest almost $140 million into the cultivated protein sector through the acquisition of Spanish company BioTech Foods and the development of a biotechnology and cultivated protein R&D centre in Brazil.

It is the company’s first foray into the cultivated protein market in which food is made from animal cells rather than animal slaughter.

Global CEO of JBS Gilberto Tomazoni said: “This acquisition strengthens our strategy of innovation, from how we develop new products to how we commercialise them, to address the growing global demand for food. Combining technological know-how with our production capacity, we will be in a position to accelerate the development of the cultivated protein market.”

BioTech Foods has been operating since 2017 and is expected to reach commercial production output by mid-2024, with products including hamburgers, sausages and meatballs. The technology can be used for beef, chicken, pork, and fish proteins.

The terms of agreement sees JBS become the majority shareholder of BioTech and the two companies pooling resources. JBS will have access to BioTech Foods technology and protein production capability while providing the industrial processing capacity, marketing structure and sales channels to bring the new product to market, JBS said.

JBS said it anticipates its R&D plant will be operational by next year and it would develop new techniques would accelerate the economies of scale, reduce production costs, and bring forward the commercialisation of cultivated proteins. The second phase of the centre will include a 10,000 square metre plant.

“We are expanding our global platform to address the new trends in consumption and the growth of the global population. The acquisition of BioTech Foods and the new research centre put JBS in a unique position to push ahead in the cultivated protein sector,” said Tomazoni.

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