Brazilian meatpacker JBS announced on Tuesday that its subsidiary, BioTech Foods, has commenced the construction of its first large-scale facility for producing lab-grown meat in Spain. The plant, scheduled for completion by mid-2024, aims to become the largest of its kind worldwide.
According to JBS, the factory will have the capacity to yield over 1,000 metric tons of cultivated beef annually. The company also stated that it envisions expanding the plant's production to 4,000 metric tons per year in the near future.
Eduardo Noronha, the head of value-added business at JBS USA, expressed excitement about the new BioTech plant, asserting that it positions JBS at the forefront of the lab-grown meat segment, ready to capitalize on this wave of innovation.
In 2021, JBS acquired a majority stake of 51% in Spain's BioTech for $100 million, of which $41 million has been allocated toward the construction of the plant. The facility will be located in San Sebastian.
In a statement, Iñigo Charola, co-founder and CEO of BioTech Foods, emphasized the potential of cultivated protein to address the challenges faced by global supply chains and stabilize food security and protein production worldwide.
JBS has outlined BioTech's plans to progressively scale up its production capacity to meet the escalating consumer demand. The company has identified Australia, Brazil, the European Union, Japan, Singapore, and the United States as key markets for lab-grown meat.
BioTech utilizes a process whereby a sample of cells is collected from livestock and cultivated into tissue, mirroring that produced naturally within an animal's body.
BRF SA, a Brazilian chicken and pork processor, also made an entrance into the cultivated meat sector by investing $2.5 million in Israeli start-up Aleph Farms in 2021.
There are of course issues with this kind of production. A recent study from UC Davis revealed that industrial production of cultured meat releases more CO2 than traditional methods of production, and it is unclear if the substances produced in these facilities will be safe for long-term human consumption. It is also unclear if consumers will accept these kinds of foods, or reject them.