JBS, the largest meat manufacturer in the world, has confirmed that it will no longer support its plant-based business Planterra in the US.
The Brazil-based company first launched Planterra, maker of the OZO brand, in 2020, seemingly to support its Net Zero by 2040 pledge.
The announcement was made early in October, days after JBS welcomed its first-ever chief sustainability officer, Jason Weller. It will now close its Planterra factory in Denver and relocate staff.
Speaking with Plant Based News, a JBS spokesperson said: “JBS USA has made the decision to discontinue operations in its US-based Planterra business unit”
“We continue to believe in the potential of plant-based options for consumers and remain committed to the alternative protein market. JBS will focus its efforts on its plant-based operations in Brazil and Europe, which continue to gain market share and expand their respective customer bases.”
Meat’s impact on the environment
JBS is the world’s largest producer of beef and lamb, both of which have a large environmental impact. They are associated with high greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane, and significant land use.
Research by CSIRO suggests that one kilo of beef also requires up to 50,000 liters of water. Alongside this, Statista revealed that the same serving produces almost 100 kilos (99.48) of CO2 equivalent emissions (CO2e).
Comparatively, lamb creates 39.72 kilos of CO2e per consumer-ready kilo of meat.
Animal agriculture contributes a minimum of 14.5 percent of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, climate experts have recommended a global shift towards a plant-based diet. Some research suggests that plant-based protein generates up to 98 percent fewer emissions than animal meat.
The US and plant-based meat
Recently, the Guardian reported that the plant-based meat boom might have cooled in the US. It used Beyond Meat’s almost 70 percent stock drop as illustrative proof.
It also revealed that a study, conducted by Indiana’s Purdue University, found that most consumers would choose animal meat over plant-based alternatives. This was true even when given the carbon footprint data from both.
New laws are not helping the growth of the sector.
At present, at least 13 states have banned the use of certain ”meaty” names or terminology on plant-based food packaging. This may have hampered JBS sales; Planterra’s OZO brand clearly uses terms such as bacon, chicken, and turkey for its plant-based product lines.
However, some studies suggest plant-based meat is still a promising sector in the US. Earlier this year, researchers discovered that a significant number of Americans want to see less meat consumed. As a result, they are happy for a meat tax to be brought in.
Furthermore, 80 percent of study participants said they could be “persuaded” to choose more plant-based food items.
Also staying optimistic is Lisa Feria, CEO of Stray Dog Capital, one of Beyond Meat’s first investors.
Speaking with PBN, she said: “I remain bullish when it comes to the plant-based industry. Some of the issues we’re seeing in the industry stem from the early versions of plant-based meat that have earned a reputation for being unhealthy. But products are evolving to have clean ingredients while improving on taste and texture.”
“We expect consumer adoption to continue to rise as their options expand.”
JBS also hasn’t totally given up on plant-based products. Its target markets of Brazil and Europe are both identified as growing spaces.
Brazil is expected to see a 13 percent increase by 2026, fueled by the popularity of meatless Mondays and personal health concerns. In Europe, plant-based meat sales have been increasing year-on-year, allowing the sector to reach a €2.3 billion valuation in the first quarter of 2022.