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Brazilian giant JBS begins construction on cultivated protein research centre

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

The JBS Biotech Innovation Centre will open in the Brazilian city of Florianópolis. Credit: Getty/Kutay Tanir
The JBS Biotech Innovation Centre will open in the Brazilian city of Florianópolis. Credit: Getty/Kutay Tanir

Related tags cultivated meat alternative protein Investment

The JBS Biotech Innovation Centre is expected to open before the end of 2024 after construction work commenced this month (September 2023).

Set to be the largest food biotechnology research centre in Brazil, it will be located at Sapiens Parque innovation hub in Florianópolis, a city in the south east of the country.

JBS expects to invest around US$62m into the project across three phases, which includes the completion of new laboratory facilities, a pilot plant and an industrial scale model that will be built to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of cultivated protein. The centre will also employ a team of 25 post-doctoral researchers in addition to support staff.

Through this investment, the meat processor hopes to make the production process for cultivated proteins more efficient, scalable and affordable. While JBS is currently focused on research, with a team having already started work at a temporary plant, it hopes to incorporate the production and sale of cultivate beef within its operations in the future.

Looking ahead, JBS hopes the project will serve as a model for future facilities where it can produce cultivated proteins. The sale of cultivated meat is currently only legal in Singapore and the USA, but investment in the technology is commonplace around the world.

The Brazilian conglomerate is also the controlling shareholder of Biotech Foods, a Spanish firm that operates its own pilot plant in the Basque region. The company recently started construction on what is set to become the largest cultivated beef plant in the world, a project that should be completed by the middle of next year.

JBS hopes to create ‘global benchmark’

Global supply and innovation director at JBS, Jerson Nascimento Jr, said that the firm has a “responsibility​” to lead on technology that could alter how food is produced, which explains its approach to cultivated meat.

"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​," Nascimento added.

JBS_BR_Biotech_innovation_centre-optimized
JBS' new research centre is under construction

The project is being led by Dr Luismar Marques Porto, president of the JBS cultivated meat division, and Fernanda Vieira Berti, vice-president of the research centre, both of whom possess extensive international professional and academic experience.

Looking at the potential of the project, Dr Porto said: "We are delighted to be part of 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​.”

Elsewhere, Hoxton Farms has opened a cultivated fat research facility in London​.

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