The Brazilian meat giant is spending $100m on the venture, with the aim of products hitting the market by 2024

Pilgrim’s Pride and Moy Park owner JBS is to enter the lab-grown meat market after it announced the acquisition of Spain-based biotechnology and cultivated protein specialist BioTech Foods.

The Brazilian protein giant said the $100m (£74.1m) deal for BioTech, which is subject to confirmation by the foreign investment authority of Spain, among other regulatory conditions, would allow both businesses to “pool their strengths and accelerate the development of the cultivated protein market”.

JBS will become a majority shareholder of BioTech, which will set up what it is describing as “Brazil’s first cultivated protein research & development centre”, as well as a new plant in Spain to scale up production.

BioTech already operates a pilot plant in San Sebastián, and expects to reach commercial production in mid-2024 following the building of the new production facility. The company, which though only set up four years ago, had already become “one of the leaders in the development of biotechnology for producing cultivated protein”, JBS said.

When commercial operations begin, the cultivated protein would reach consumers in the form of prepared foods, such as hamburgers, steaks, sausagemeats, and meatballs, promising “the same quality, safety, taste and texture as traditional protein”. JBS added the technology had the potential, not just 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 commercialise them, to address the growing global demand for food,” said Gilberto Tomazoni, global CEO of JBS. “Combining technological knowhow with our production capacity, we will be in a position to accelerate the development of the cultivated protein market.”