The World’s Largest Cultured Meat Factory to be Built in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
cultured meat from animal cells

SAN SEBASTIÁN – JBS, a Brazilian multinational food giant, has commenced the construction of the world’s largest cultured meat factory in San Sebastian, Spain, with an investment of $41 million (€38 million).  

This marks the first large-scale industrial plant from BioTech Foods, a Spanish biotech firm in which JBS holds a majority stake. The factory is projected to be completed by mid-2024. Upon completion, it is expected to produce over 1,000 tons of cultured protein annually, potentially expanding this capacity to 4,000 tons in the mid-term.  

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The new facility will be built on a plot of 20,000 square metres, enabling potential expansion and adaptation according to market needs. BioTech Foods plans to gradually increase its production capacity to meet the rising consumer demand, having already identified key markets in the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Singapore, and the United States. 

The facilities, set to employ approximately 150 individuals, will be equipped with innovative tools like patented bioreactors and advanced technology specifically adapted for the production of cultured protein. 

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Cultured protein as an innovative product 

“As a global leader in protein production, a significant part of our responsibility is to lead initiatives at the intersection of food and technology. The new hub in San Sebastian will allow BioTech Foods to offer cultured protein as an innovative product that will meet consumer demand for healthy, tasty, and sustainable food products,” says Eduardo Noronha, Director of the Added Value Business Unit at JBS USA. 

BioTech Foods’ co-founder and CEO, Iñigo Charola, added: “BioTech Foods has the technology and capacity to produce proteins on a large scale in a more sustainable and innovative way, meeting commercial needs globally. With the challenges global supply chains are facing today, cultured protein has the potential to stabilise food security and global protein production.” 

Cultured protein is expected to help meet the 135% increase in global protein demand by 2050, according to an estimate by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). 

State-of-the-art research and development centre 

In addition to this plant in Spain, JBS is also building a state-of-the-art research and development centre for biotechnology and cultured protein in Florianopolis, Brazil. This complex, named the JBS Biotech Innovation Centre, is expected to receive investments of around $60 million (€55.6 million). 

What is cultured meat? 

Cultured meat, also known as lab-grown or in vitro meat, is produced in a laboratory from animal cells. The process involves taking a small sample of animal cells (usually muscle cells) and nurturing them in a controlled environment to create meat. This type of meat has the potential to significantly reduce traditional livestock farming, leading to decreased environmental impact from meat production and potential alleviation of animal suffering as no slaughter is necessary. 

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