Sao Paulo, Brazil-headquartered JBS has entered into an agreement to acquire control of Donostia-San Sebastian, Gipuzkoa, Spain-based BioTech Foods. The pending deal, subject to confirmation by the Spanish foreign investment authorities, signals the company’s entry into the cultivated protein market, which centers on producing food from animal cells and includes investment in building a new plant in Spain to scale up production.
Along with the acquisition, JBS also announced the setting up of Brazil’s first cultivated protein research and development center. In all, it will channel approximately US $100 million into the two projects.
Founded in 2017, BioTech Foods ranks among the world’s leaders in the development of biotechnology for producing cultivated protein, and has the support of the Spanish government and the European Union. The company operates a pilot plant in the city of San Sebastián and expects to reach commercial production in mid-2024 with the building of this new facility. The investment in the enterprise is estimated at US $41 million.
BioTech Foods was founded by Iñigo Charola, a sales executive with broad experience in marketing and strategy, and Dr. Mercedes Vila Juárez, who holds a PhD in materials physics and is one of the world’s leading experts in the use of materials for biomedicine. In 2010, she was awarded with the Lóreal-UNESCO Award For Women in Science in recognition of her scientific career.
Under terms of the acquisition, JBS becomes the majority shareholder of BioTech Foods. The deal enables both companies to pool their strengths and accelerate the development of the cultivated protein market. 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.
When commercial operations begin, the cultivated protein will reach consumers in the form of prepared foods, such as hamburgers, steaks, sausage meats, and meatballs, among others, with the same quality, safety, taste and texture as traditional protein. The technology has the potential not only for the production of beef protein, but also chicken, pork and fish.
“This acquisition strengthens our strategy of innovation, from how we develop new products to how we commercialize 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,” said JBS Global CEO Gilberto Tomazoni.