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Planterra's OZO alt-meat brand. Image credit: Planterra

Brief: Meat giant JBS shutters its US plant-based meat division

October 3, 2022

  • JBS, one of the world’s largest meat companies, is “pulling the plug” on its US-based alt-protein division, Planterra. Denver Business Journal was first to report the news.
  • The move includes closing down a 189,000-square-foot factory in Denver, Colorado, as well as getting rid of more than 100 jobs. 
  • Planterra debuted its OZO brand of meat alternatives in the US in 2020. As recently as last month, the company was announcing expansion news.

Why it matters:

The Planterra shutdown is just the latest piece of evidence that the plant-based meat sector is in the midst of a major struggle. The category’s double-digit growth in 2020 was followed by flattening sales in 2021. Now, sales of plant-based meat are on the decline. 

Beyond Meat, Maple Leaf Foods and Conagra-owned Gardein are among the alternative protein companies seeing declines in 2022.

Supply chain commotion and inflation are partly to blame. A recent analysis by Deloitte also suggests there are also consumer-driven reasons at play. The addressable market may be smaller than previously thought, with Deloitte noting that “the portion of the US population open to trying (and repeat buying) it may already have reached a saturation point.”

Consumers are also questioning the benefits of plant-based meat alternatives, especially those around health. Deloitte noted that in 2021, seven in 10 consumers believed plant-based meat was healthier than animal products. This year, the number dropped by eight percentage points.

Even startups developing plant-based meats are calling the sector’s health factor into question; a new crop of companies is prioritizing “clean” ingredients and healthier whole-cut options. 

JBS has not said whether shutting down Planterra is in response to all this. A spokesperson for JBS told Food Navigator that the company continues to believe in plant-based options and will “remain committed” to the alt-protein market. JBS will continue its plant-based operations in Brazil and Europe through different brands.

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