JBS expands its vegan portfolio, buys Vivera for $410M

28 Apr 2021

JBS, the world’s largest protein company, entered into an agreement to purchase Vivera, Europe’s third-largest plant-based food producer for approximately $410 million (€341 million). The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, but the deal includes three manufacturing units and an R&D facility in the Netherlands.

Vivera primarily operates in The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany, but sells over 50 plant-based foods in major retailers across 25 countries. Reuters reported that Vivera has an annual revenue of roughly $100 million. JBS, however, pulls in a net revenue of $48.33 billion, a growing portion of which is due to its expanding presence in plant-based products.

JBS expands its vegan portfolio, buys Vivera for $410M
Courtesy of Vivera

"This acquisition is an important step to strengthen our global plant-based protein platform", said Gilberto Tomazoni, Global CEO of JBS. "Vivera will give JBS a stronghold in the plant-based sector, with technological knowledge and capacity for innovation.”

To foster innovation in the plant-based space, JBS said in a release that it will manage Vivera as a standalone business unit and the Dutch company’s current leadership team will remain in place.

Outside of Vivera, JBS has been actively developing its position as a market leader in plant-based products. Already the world’s second-largest food producer has Seara in Brazil, which produces a plant-based hamburger range called Incrível. JBS USA has several more plant-based lines, including the vegan startup Planterra Foods and Ozo. In Europe, Moy Park, which is also owned by JBS, produces plant-based chicken burgers.

With a well-developed presence in the large U.S. plant-based market – the pandemic led to explosive growth in the plant-based category, reaching $7 billion in 2020 with a 27% overall growth rate, per SPINS data – it makes sense that JBS is looking toward Western Europe to fuel its next phase of growth. ING data show that the European plant-based sector will reach $9.1 billion by 2025, up from $5.9 billion in 2019. The markets with the highest retail sales of these vegan protein alternatives are the UK followed by France and Germany. Benelux is one of the top regions for consumption per capita. Vivera, is positioned squarely to cater to these hungry markets. JBS told Food Navigator that Vivera’s sales are growing 25-30% year over year.

For Vivera, this partnership offers a chance to expand its distribution. With JBS’s global networks of supply chains and retailers, the European startup will be able to tap into these resources and increase the global visibility of its brand.

"Joining forces with JBS gives us access to significant resources and capabilities to accelerate our current strong growth trajectory and Vivera brand expansion", said Vivera’s CEO Willem van Weede.

With higher valuations of products in the plant-based sector and a strong appetite from consumers to see more value-add, better-for-you choices in the supermarket, this partnership is a mutually beneficial one for both parties. If JBS elects to expand Vivera’s brand outside of its regional stronghold, it will be worth watching how the brand develops under the guidance of its future parent company.

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