JBS enters plant-based bacon with new Ozo product

Dive Brief:

  • Planterra — the U.S. plant-based 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’s available 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.

Dive Insight:

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

But when a new plant-based bacon product is launched by the world’s biggest meat company, it’s worth taking notice. JBS USA, the subsidiary of the Brazil-based company, is the nation’s second largest fresh pork producer. The company has five facilities that can process 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 strong reputation in that space.

Any plant-based bacon brand that JBS would launch is automatically held to a higher standard. In a release, Planterra Foods CEO Darcey Macken assures the Ozo Plant-Based Bacon is “unlike anything else in the market” and close to what comes from pork. 

The bacon is made from typical plant-based ingredients — a protein blend of rice flour, wheat, soy and pea, along with sunflower and coconut oil. The Ozo bacon also is healthier than its animal-derived counterpart, with more than 50% less saturated fat and no cholesterol. Each piece of Ozo bacon has two grams of fat — less than the average pork bacon slice — but it has 170 grams of sodium.

From its early days, Planterra was a company with a mission of providing an additional choice to flexitarians, but not necessarily trying to replace meat.

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

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

It will be up to consumers to determine how well Ozo Plant-Based Bacon fares in the market. One thing missing from the new offering, the product packaging doesn’t reveal the brand’s corporate owner. The only people who know Ozo has the same corporate owner as Swift and Plumrose USA are those who do research beyond the grocery store.