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JBS has announced that it has acquired Dutch plant-based meat maker Vivera in a €341 million (US$410 million) deal. The move by the world’s biggest meat processing corporation is part of its strategy to “boost” its plant-based platform in response to shifting mainstream consumer demand.
Brazilian meat giant JBS has entered into an agreement to purchase Vivera for an enterprise value of €341 million (US$410 million), which will include taking over the brand, its three manufacturing facilities and its R&D centre based in the Netherlands, the firm announced on Monday (April 19). Vivera is currently the third-largest plant-based meat producer in Europe and has since its founding in 1990 established a strong foothold across the region.
The acquisition of the legacy plant protein label is part of JBS’ pivot towards plant-based products, no doubt to keep up with quickly-changing consumer preferences. Amid pandemic-driven supply chain disruptions last year, plant-based food sales across the world have skyrocketed while conventional meat faced a tumble amounting to as much as US$20 billion.
This acquisition is an important step to strengthen our global plant-based protein platform Vivera will give JBS a stronghold in the plant-based sector.Gilberto Tomazoni, Global CEO, JBS
JBS’ supply chain was hit particularly hard last year due to widespread slaughterhouse outbreaks, with one federal study highlighting a “direct relationship” between Covid-19 infections in the towns in central and southern Brazil where meat workers live and work.
Concerned about health, nutrition, sustainability and safety more than ever before, consumers quickly shifted to plant-based meat alternatives. In the U.S., retail sales of plant-based foods in 2020 jumped double-digits year-on-year to top US$7 billion, while European plant-based demand saw 49% growth over the past two years to reach a total sales value of €3.6 billion (approx. US$4.35 billion).
Last year, in response to surging demand, Vivera said that it would be making a €30 million (US$35.5 million) three-year investment to expand its product line, machinery and workforce. Vivera’s range boasts over 50 plant-based meat products sold across 27,000 outlets in Europe, including at retail giants like Asda and Tesco.
Joining forces with JBS gives us access to significant resources and capabilities to accelerate our current strong growth trajectory and Vivera brand expansion.William van Weede, CEO, Vivera
Vivera will join several other plant-based brands under the JBS portfolio, including Brazilian plant-based burger brand Incrível, which was an offshoot of JBS subsidiary Seara’s, as well as U.S.-facing labels Planterra Foods and OZO.
“This acquisition is an important step to strengthen our global plant-based protein platform,” commented said Gilberto Tomazoni, global CEO at JBS. “Vivera will give JBS a stronghold in the plant-based sector, with technological knowledge and capacity for innovation.”
The Brazilian meat corporation says it plans to manage Vivera as a standalone business unit with its current leadership remaining unchanged.
Willem van Weede, CEO of Vivera, described the acquisition as a big step for the brand to accelerate its global expansion in the coming years. “Joining forces with JBS gives us access to significant resources and capabilities to accelerate our current strong growth trajectory and Vivera brand expansion.”
With global patterns indicating that consumers are making the biggest drop in meat intake seen in decades, other meat firms have also made pivots in their business strategy. Fellow Brazilian food conglomerate, BRF, the parent company of Sadia, Perdigão and Qualy, has decided to work with cell-based protein player Aleph Farms as part of its plan to shift to cultivated meat production in the future.
Meanwhile, seafood behemoth Thai Union will launch its own-branded plant-based shrimp this year to diversify its portfolio, and Singapore-based Tee Yih Jia, known for its frozen ready-made Asian meals and ingredients, has introduced a new ALTN brand to offer consumers vegan convenience foods and snacks.
Lead image courtesy of Vivera.