The largest meat company in the world, JBS, has started construction of its first commercial-scale factory to make lab-grown meat in Spain.

The new plant is planned to be completed in the middle of 2024 and will be run by its subsidiary, BioTech Foods. The giant laboratory, in San Sebastion, is being heralded as a world first and JBS said it would start by producing 1000 tonnes of cultivated beef per year before increasing to 4000 tonnes.

Back in 2021, JBS bought a 51% stake in the Spanish company BioTech for $100m (£80m) and spent $41m (£33m) in building the factory. JBS believe there is growing demand for lab-grown meat in Australia, Brazil, the EU, Japan, Singapore and the US markets.

BioTech Foods' co-founder and CEO, Iñigo Charola, said: “With the challenges imposed on global supply chains, cultivated protein offers the potential to stabilise food security and global protein production.”

Meanwhile, Brazilian chicken and pork processor, BRF, has invested $2.5m (£2m) in Israeli start-up, Aleph Farms.