JBS—the world’s largest animal meat company—has taken a huge step in the right direction by launching plant-based meat products under the OZO brand of JBS subsidiary Planterra Foods. The brand offers burgers, two flavors of ground vegan beef, and Italian-style meatballs. Packaged in recyclable containers, the plant-based meat is made from pea and rice protein fermented with shiitake mushrooms.
OZO has embarked on a nationwide tasting tour through December to promote the new products. It aims to bring the plant-based offerings to 750,000 customers. Planterra Foods CEO Darcey Macken said in a statement:
We recognize there are other protein offerings out there, which is why we’re adamant on having strong points of difference in our products. This category needs better tasting food from real ingredients that appeals to the whole family, and we’re confident that OZO products deliver.
The move comes at a time when plant-based meats are seeing an uptick in demand. According to Yahoo! Finance, the pandemic has played a large role in the shift toward plant-based products, as slaughterhouses around the country have closed due to surges in COVID-19 cases among workers. According to the Food and Environment Reporting Network, over 30,000 meatpacking workers from 262 facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 100 have died.
Other factors contributing to the shift are customer interest in healthier protein options and a growing awareness of both farmed animal suffering and the meat industry’s significant contribution to climate change. According to research published in the journal Climatic Change, ditching animal products can cut one’s carbon footprint from food in half!
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.
While JBS’s choice to embrace plant-based products is a step in the right direction, it couldn’t come soon enough. With a history of animal cruelty, contributing to the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, and even using woodchippers to grind up unwanted animals, JBS urgently needs to get out of the business of factory farming animals.
If you’re interested in trying the new plant-based meat products, they will initially be available at Albertsons and Safeway locations in the Rocky Mountain states and at Kroger stores in 12 states.
Fortunately, countless other delicious plant-based meats are already at your local grocery store, such as Beyond Meat and Tofurky. Or you could try making your own! Check out these 10 delicious and completely doable plant-based meat recipes.
Cover Photo: OZO