JBS enters plant-based bacon with new product Ozo

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Diving Brief:

  • Planterra – the US plant arm of global meat giant JBS – is launching Ozo Plant-Based Bacon, which is its first foray into the bacon space. It will be available at Sprouts Farmers Market stores.
  • Ozo’s Plant-Based Bacon uses Planterra’s True Bite Technology, a proprietary process to create a more meat-like texture. It comes in three varieties: Cracked Black Pepper, Applewood Smoke, and Spicy Jalapeno.
  • Several companies have launched plant-based bacon, including Nestlé’s Sweet Earth, as well as smaller startups like Hooray Foods. Most of them, however, don’t also make the meat variety like JBS.

Overview of the dive:

Bacon is a food that arouses deep passion. Many plant-based and alternative meat makers have tried to create a realistic alternative to bacon, but it has been notoriously difficult to get it right. The taste, texture, mouthfeel and appearance of real meat bacon have all been difficult for alternative protein companies to imitate.

But when a new plant-based bacon product is launched by the world’s largest meat company, it’s worth noticing. JBS USA, the company’s Brazil-based subsidiary, is the second largest producer of fresh pork in the country. The company has five facilities that can handle more than 90,000 hogs per day and owns leading bacon brands including Swift and Plumrose USA. The company obviously knows bacon – and has a solid reputation in this area.

Any brand of plant-based bacon that JBS launches is automatically held to a higher standard. In a statement, Planterra Foods CEO Darcey Macken says Ozo’s plant-based bacon is “unlike anything on the market” and close to what comes from pork.

Bacon is made from typical vegetable ingredients – a mixture of rice, wheat, soy and pea flour proteins, as well as sunflower and coconut oil. Ozo bacon is also healthier than its animal-based counterpart, with over 50% less saturated fat and no cholesterol. Each piece of Ozo bacon contains two grams of fat – less than the average slice of pork bacon – but it contains 170 grams of sodium.

From its inception, Planterra was a company whose mission was to provide additional choice for flexitarians, but not necessarily to try to replace meat.

The company turned to innovative partnerships and used new methods to try to make its products as meaty as possible. The True Bite technology that gives bacon its texture was pioneered through whole, plant-based chicken products that launched earlier this year. Additionally, the company has worked with fermented protein ingredient maker MycoTechnology to create more own-label products.

Only one other meat company well known for its bacon offers a plant-based option: Maple Leaf Foods of Canada. The company owns Lightlife, which makes Smart Bacon made from wheat and soy protein. But the bacon strips have rave not deserved opinion of all tasters.

It will be up to consumers to determine how well Ozo’s plant-based bacon performs in the marketplace. One thing the new offering lacks, the product packaging does not reveal the company that owns the brand. The only people who know that Ozo has the same owner as Swift and Plumrose USA are those who research beyond the grocery store.

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