Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) will supply the ingredients while Marfrig will manufacture and distribute the vegetarian burger.
Other plant-based products will follow, the companies said in a statement. Marfrig will also launch a specific brand for vegetarian products
The first hamburgers will be available in Brazil later this year, initially in food service and restaurants, before being expanded to retailers.
The CEO of Marfrig Global Foods, Eduardo Miron, said: "Together, Marfrig and ADM will produce a 100% vegetable burger with a meat-like flavor and texture. We want to give consumers the power of choice. It's up to them. The vegetable burger comes to complement Marfrig's product portfolio and serve all market channels in which we operate."
Although Brazil is undoubtedly a nation of meat-eaters - despite having a much lower GDP per capita, the average Brazilian eats just 180 g less meat than the average US citizen, according to USDA figures - vegetarian versions of meat products have
Marfrig's competitor, JBS, launched a vegetarian burger this year as did smaller companies such as Superbom and Fazenda do Futuro.
Production of the plant-based patty will begin in Marfrig’s Várzea Grande factory in Mato Grosso, using ADM's texturized soy protein that is manufactured at its soy processing plant in the neighboring state of Campo Grande.
ADM is well known for its soy ingredients and the Chicago-headquartered company has nine soy processing plants in Brazil, producing the Concordia, Corcovado and ABC soybean oil brands.
However, it has also been building up its pea protein portfolio (which was previously limited to products such as flours with a 22% protein content) to include concentrates and isolates. Last year, it said it was planning to launch a pea protein concentrate with more than 80% protein.
Roberto Ciciliano, president ADM Nutrition LATAM said the final product will have a 'clean label' ingredient list.
"The most important challenge [was] related to texture. ADM has developed a unique technology that provides excellent results, attracting consumers that want to have a veggie and vegan product – but provides the experience in texture and sensorial similar to real meat-based [food]," Ciciliano said.
GFI: 'This is a defining moment'
Gustavo Guadagnini, managing director of non-profit organization, The Good Food Institute (GFI) Brazil, said Marfrig's decision to enter the plant-based sector was important as it would boost the availability of cost-competitive plant-based meats to meet increasing consumer demand.
"We need the big companies onboard of this movement since they have distribution, consumer knowledge and huge R&D budgets.
"When one of the world's top meat companies launches a plant-based burger, that’s a defining moment in the creation of more sustainable, nutritious, and accessible plant-based meats," he told FoodNavigator-LATAM. "It shows the whole market how important that product category is.
"Such an investment from a company this big will generate increased consumer awareness and introduce plant-based meat to entirely new audiences."