Global meat processor JBS begins construction of cultivated protein centre
Meat processor JBS has started constructing its first cultivated protein R&D centre. The new Biotech Innovation Centre is at Sapiens Parque innovation hub in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina.
The Innovation Centre will be the largest research facility focused on food biotechnology in Brazil, with JBS investing US$22 million into its construction.
The centre will have a team of 25 specialist post-doctoral researchers, as well as staff and clerical support. It is led by Dr Luismar Marques Porto, president of the JBS Cultivated Meat Division and the new centre, as well as Fernanda Vieira Berti, vice-president of the Research Centre.
The initial aim of the Innovation Centre is to make the production process for cultivated protein more efficient, scalable and economically competitive.
“It’s almost out of this world to think of ‘cultivated protein’.”Jorginho Mello, governor of Santa Catarina.
“As a global leader in protein production, it is our responsibility to be at the forefront of foodtech. The JBS Biotech Innovation Centre reinforces our commitment to the cultivated protein sector, consolidates our position as one of the main players in this very promising market, and reinforces our commitment to offering innovative, high-quality products to our consumers,” said JBS Global Supply and Innovation director Jerson Nascimento Jr.
Santa Catarina’s governor, Jorginho Mello, highlighted that the JBS Biotech Innovation Centre reinforces the state’s innovation focus. He said: “For those of us who grew up watching cattle graze from our windows in Herval D’Oeste, it’s almost out of this world to think of ‘cultivated protein’.
“But as a public representative it’s impossible not to see the future challenges, especially for countries that do not have as much land as Brazil to raise cattle.”
Continuing research during construction
While the centre is being constructed, the JBS Biotech Centre scientists have already begun to work in temporary facilities in Sapiens Parque.
Currently, the team are focusing on exploratory research in order to better understand beef cell cultivation, but in the future they wish to establish cultivated beef protein production.
A total of US$62 million investment will be required over three phases. Phase three will see an industrial scale model built to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of cultivated protein, with the project aiming to serve as a model for potential future JBS cultivated protein plants.
JBS is currently the controlling shareholder (holding a 51% stake) of Biotech Foods. The Spanish company is a leader in the European cultivated protein sector, currently operating a pilot plant in San Sebastián.
JBS aims to commercially produce cultivated hamburgers, sausages and meatballs with no discernible difference to traditional protein. It will also be able to produce pork, beef, chicken and fish as part of its cultivated protein project.
Porto said: “We are delighted to be the first initiative of this size in Brazil and to be able to contribute to studies that will help expand the sector. We are confident this project will become an international benchmark.”