Brazilian giants invest in alternative proteins

03-05-2021 | | |
BRF bets on cultivated meat and JBS buys  plant based  company, Vivera. Photo: Koos Groenewold
BRF bets on cultivated meat and JBS buys plant based company, Vivera. Photo: Koos Groenewold

Brazilian giants JBS and BRF announced plans to invest into alternative proteins to reinforce their positions in Brazil, the US, and Europe.

BRF´s plan includes cultivated meat through a partnership with the Israeli agtech Aleph Farm. This technology produces meat in laboratories from animal cells. Lorival Luz, president of BRF, said to Forbes Brasil that the company sees new trends of consumer’s behaviour and preferences. “We need to study the events in the world. When we put those imputs together, it gives us a projection and a direction,” commented the executive. According to him, cultivated meat may become a relevant protein source for part of world in a few decades.

BRF did not disclose the extent of its investment for “laboratory meat”, but it is being treated as “revolutionary” in the company. Countries like the United States, Israel, and Singapore already have alternative protein products, now is the moment to develop the technology in Brazil. The process of producing artificial meat is still being tested between BRF and the Israeli startup. In general, it is based on the multiplication in the laboratory of cells taken from animals.

The first step is the extraction of cells through a biopsy. Then, the cells are stimulated to multiply using nutrients and specific conditions. Then, they go into biological reactors to become small filaments, as a tissue or a steak, whether, of poultry, pig, or cattle. “Making this product profitable and available to the people is already an achievement for the company. Today it is still an expensive technology. In any case, we will be able to make affordable prices for consumers of all social classes. It will be competitive meat on the market,” said Lorival to Forbes.

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JBS signs agreement to buy plant-based producer

Parallel to BRF, JBS has signed an agreement to buy Vivera, the third largest plant-based producer in Europe, for a value of € 341 million. Vivera develops and produces a diversified portfolio of plant-based proteins for large retailers at 25 European countries, with a relevant presence in The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Germany. The deal includes 3 factories and a research and development center located in the Netherlands. The acquisition strengthens and drives JBS global plant-based product platform through the brand Seara. According to the company, there is a strong increasing trend of consumption in this segment.

Vivera, currently the largest independent plant-based company in Europe, joins the initiatives of Seara, in Brazil, where the line “Incredible” which leads in vegetable hamburgers, and Planterra, which has the OZO brand in United States. “It is an important step towards strengthening our global vegetable protein platform. Vivera reinforces JBS presence in the plant-based sector with technological knowledge and innovative capacity”, says Gilberto Tomazoni, Global CEO of JBS.

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Daniel Azevedo Freelance journalist Brazil