LAFAYETTE, COLO. — Planterra Foods, a plant-based meat business owned by JBS SA, Sao Paulo, Brazil, is ceasing operations in Lafayette, closing its manufacturing facility and laying off its entire staff.
In a Sept. 29 letter to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Nikki Richardson, head of corporate communications for JBS Foods USA, said, “This closure is permanent. Approximately 121 employees will be affected by this closure. The facilities will cease operations within the next 60 to 75 days. The layoffs are expected to affect salaried and non-salaried employees in all functional areas.”
Planterra Foods’ products were sold at retail under the Ozo brand. Its products first reached store shelves in March 2020 with the introduction of burger patties, grounds and meatballs. The products were formulated with pea and rice protein fermented by shiitake mushrooms. A year later Planterra Foods expanded the brand to frozen foods with the introduction of burger patties, sausages, chicken patties and chicken nuggets.
In August 2021, the company opened its headquarters in Lafayette, which featured an innovation center and office space. In December 2021, Planterra opened a 189,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.
Planterra was not JBS’s only plant-based meat business. In April 2021, the company acquired Vivera, a European company with three manufacturing plants, for $410 million. The company manufactures a range of plant-based meat replacement products, including meatless chicken nuggets, hot dogs, steaks, bacon and burgers.
The Lafayette closure comes as the US plant-based meat category continues to struggle. A recent report from the Brightfield Group showed many meat alternative segments saw declines in market penetration during the second quarter of 2022, including plant-based sausages and fish (down 17%), burger alternatives (down 7%) and chicken alternatives (down 6%). Bethany Gomez, managing director of Brightfield, said inflation and higher average grocery bills for consumers are pushing them to purchase conventional animal-based products.