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JBS expands global plant-based food footprint

PeopleImages/iStock/Getty Images handshake over business deal
Purchase of Europe’s third-largest plant-based protein producer includes three manufacturing facilities, research center in the Netherlands.

JBS, the world’s largest protein company and second-largest food producer, has entered into an agreement to purchase Vivera, Europe’s third-largest plant-based food company, for an enterprise value of 341 million euros ($410 million). Vivera develops and produces a broad range of innovative plant-based meat replacement products for major retailers in over 25 countries across Europe, with relevant market share in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany. The deal includes three manufacturing facilities and a research and development center located in the Netherlands.

The acquisition of Vivera strengthens and boosts JBS’ global plant-based food platform. Strong growth is expected in this category throughout global markets. The deal will add a brand to JBS’ portfolio that is well- established in consumer preference, strengthening the company’s focus on value-added products.

Vivera, currently the largest independent plant-based company in Europe, will join other JBS initiatives such as Seara’s Incrível line, a market leader in plant-based hamburgers in Brazil, and Planterra, with the OZO brand in the United States.

“This acquisition is an important step to strengthen our global plant-based protein platform,” said Gilberto Tomazoni, global CEO of JBS. “Vivera will give JBS a stronghold in the plant-based sector, with technological knowledge and capacity for innovation.”

To nurture its entrepreneurial spirit, JBS plans to manage Vivera as a standalone business unit with its current leadership team to remain in place.

“Joining forces with JBS gives us access to significant resources and capabilities to accelerate our current strong growth trajectory and Vivera brand expansion,” said Willem van Weede, CEO of Vivera.

The deal was approved by the JBS board of directors but must be approved by antitrust authorities before completion.

Plant-based market growth

Recent data released by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and The Good Food Institute (GFI) showed U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods continued to increase by double digits in 2020, growing 27% and bringing the total plant-based market value to $7 billion. This growth in dollar sales was consistent across the nation, with more than 25% growth in every U.S. census region.

The plant-based food market grew almost twice as fast as the total U.S. retail food market, which increased 15% in 2020 as COVID-19 shuttered restaurants and consumers stocked up on food amid lockdowns. Fifty-seven percent of households now purchase plant-based foods, up from 53% in 2019. GFI and PBFA commissioned the data from SPINS and custom refined the data to reflect only plant-based products that directly replace animal-based products.

The value of plant-based meat — the second-largest plant-based category — hit $1.4 billion in 2020, with sales growing 45%, up from $962 million in 2019. The plant-based meat category grew twice as fast as conventional meat and now accounts for 2.7% of retail packaged meat sales. Eighteen percent of U.S. households now purchase plant-based meat, up from 14% in 2019. Consumers are coming back for more — 63% of shoppers are high-repeat customers.

Data revealed that Refrigerated plant-based meat sales grew 75% in 2020, with products increasingly shelved adjacent to conventional meat, which GFI and PBFA said helped propel growth in the segment. Refrigerated plant-based meat sales increased more than twice as fast as frozen plant-based meat sales, which grew 30% in 2020 — 10 times faster than in 2019.

TAGS: Business
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