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By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Brazil's Marfrig Global Foods SA, the world's largest hamburger producer, said on Tuesday it has reached an agreement with U.S.-based agribusiness company Archer Daniels Midland Co to produce and market vegetable protein products in Brazil.
ADM, which trades and processes grains and oilseeds, will supply raw materials, and Marfrig said it will produce, distribute and sell the plant-based meat to restaurants and retailers.
"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," Eduardo Miron, chief executive of Marfrig, said in a statement.
Marfrig's shares were up 6.4% in Sao Paulo mid-session on Tuesday. ADM shares were trading down 2.4% in New York.
The move underscores companies' need to adapt to changing consumer habits, and makes Marfrig the latest meatpacker to join the fray.
In June, Tyson Foods Inc launched its first vegetarian and mixed-protein products, as it seeks to compete with Beyond Meat Inc. and others catering to rising demand for plant-based alternatives to animal protein.
Marfrig's deal also follows the steps by some of its competitors in Brazil. One rival, Seara, a unit of JBS SA , recently launched a line of plant-based products to compete with smaller players in Brazil that were reporting sharp sales increases.
"The vegetable burger comes to complement Marfrig's product portfolio and serve all market channels in which we operate," Miron said. (Reporting by Ana Mano and Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Sandra Maler and David Gregorio)