JBS, the biggest meat producer in the world, has launched a new range of vegan meat in the U.S.
The new brand, called OZO, was initially planned to launch in April but was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. OZO has been developed by Colorado-based Planterra Foods, a new subsidiary of JBS USA.
OZO’s pea protein-based products—vegan burgers, ground mince, and Mexican-seasoned ground mince—were certified vegan by BeVeg. They will initially be available from Albertsons and Safeway in Rocky Mountain states, reports Forbes. Kroger will stock the products in 12 states.
In celebration of the launch, a fleet of OZO vans will appear across the country, handing out freshly cooked samples of the new plant-based burgers. The van is scheduled to appear in Denver, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland. Planterra also intends to donate over one million samples of its burgers to frontline workers.
The Rise of Vegan Meat
The pandemic has hit the meat industry badly; some of the biggest meat producers in the U.S., JBS included, closed plants and slowed down production earlier this year due to significant outbreaks of the virus among workers.
Following an executive order from President Donald Trump, many plants have now re-opened but are operating at a reduced capacity. As a result, there have been meat shortages and prices are rising.
The vegan meat market, on the other hand, is doing well. A number of plant-based brands, including Beyond Meat, Tofurky, and Gardein have reported consistently rising sales. In the last week of March, fresh meat alternative sales outpaced the growth of meat sales. The former increased 255 percent compared with 2019.
Planterra Foods CEO Darcey Macken told Forbes that there are a number of reasons why consumers might reach for vegan meat products. She said: “we’re not saying that meat is bad. People getting their heads wrapped around plants can be for all different motivations, whether it’s about earth and sustainability or just not eating animals.”
JBS Vegan Meat in Brazil
In Brazil, where JBS S.A. is based, the meat giant has already been working on development in the vegan meat market. Earlier this year, subsidiary Seara Alimentos began producing plant-based proteins at its new Incredible Lab.
Seara Alimentos President Joanita Karoleski told Food Navigator: “the world is constantly changing. Today there is a new way for everything and with food it’s no different. The search for vegetable proteins is a reality and we want to be leaders in this segment.”
The company launched its first vegan burger, called the Incredible Burger, in 2019. It’s expanding its portfolio to include five new vegan products.