Chief growth officer Jorge Azevedo addresses criticism against parent company JBS, insisting start-up can make a bigger impact with meat giant’s funding
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Planterra prepares to launch innovative plant-based chicken to foodservice partners in December

JBS-owned plant-based brand Planterra Foods is plotting the release of a novel plant-based chicken offering that requires a knife to cut through it.

Planterra chief growth officer Jorge Azevedo said the product has been trademarked in the company’s name through texture technology and is currently being presented to potential foodservice partners.

At present, the start-up provides its products to foodservice outlets via major distributor US Foods.

“We have an innovation launching in December that is completely new to the world. It’s the first plant-based item that has fibres and you’re going to need a knife to eat it,” Azevedo told NutritionInvestor.

Although it is funded by Brazilian beef giant JBS, Planterra is operated as an independent start-up with its own senior exec team that is not attached to the parent company.

Azevedo insists JBS’ backing enables the company to focus on product innovation and scale while a typical start-up would be raising capital at the same stage.

“There’s a robust pipeline coming in next year that would not have been possible at this early stage without the funding that we have and without the knowledge that we are afforded. In a regular start-up we would be in our Series B right now and we would be going on a cash burn rate that is fairly high,” he said.

“Support functions, like our accounting, are largely attached to the JBS corporate accounting and a lot of other back-office support comes out of JBS like HR support. Plus, they help quite a bit with commercial introductions and commercial relationships,” he added.

Responding to criticism the company often faces for being attached to a major meat producer, Azevedo said Planterra is able to make a bigger change to the current food supply chain by being attached to JBS than if it were independent.

“At the end of the day it’s a big investment [for JBS] and we’re not making any money for them right now. We’re investing way more than we make but if you’re really trying to change minds and make a dent you have to talk to those that are not in your camp yet. We can make a bigger impact by being attached to JBS than by being independent and struggling our way through it,” the exec said.

Planterra is expecting to be present in up to 20 countries by the end of 2021, including an additional eight markets such as Germany and the UK.

Back in April, JBS purchased European plant-based foods brand Vivera for €341 million to further increase its plant-based portfolio.  

Date published: 6 October 2021

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