The company held an inauguration ceremony on Friday (1 March) to mark the opening of the new facility.
According to Beneo, the move comes in response to growing demand for plant-based proteins as consumer interest in meat-free alternatives continues to rise.
“We are seeing a big shift in consumer diets as an increasing number of consumers actively try to reduce their meat intake and seek out alternatives,” Christoph Boettger, Executive Board Member at Beneo, commented.
Beneo said the ingredient delivers a “neutral taste and stable texture” and can be used to replace meat in a “wide range” of traditionally meat-based products, such as burgers, nuggets and bolognaise sauce.
A spokesperson for the company told FoodNavigator that, when full capacity is reached and the maximum daily intake amount of textured wheat protein is under production, one million vegetarian burgers could be produced.
According to Mintel’s global NPD database, wheat protein was the most-used plant-based protein in new meat substitute launches in 2018. “We see great potential for this market in 2019 and beyond,” Boettger added.
“Through this significant investment and new production facilty, Beneo can take its first steps in exploring the market for textured plant-based proteins to allow its customers to capitalise on this rising trend.”
Joint venture with BioWanze
The plant is part of an existing biorefinery producing food, feed and ethanol owned by CropEnergies subsidy BioWanze.
The wheat that BioWanze uses is made into variety of products:
- ethanol which replaces petrol for environmentally friendly mobility
- gluten for food applications (bakeries) or feed application (pet food, fish farming) or to be made into TWP and specialised feed
- CDS, a liquid animal feed for pigs and cattle
- green energy is made from the bran of the wheat and used for the production, but also feeds into the national grid
BioWanze will operate the facility and Beneo will market the textured wheat protein in an extension of an existing production and distribution agreement between the two groups.
“The cooperation between CropEnergies and Beneo focuses on wheat protein (gluten),” the spokesperson Beneo explained. “Beneo has been marketing the gluten from BioWanze for some years already under the range of functional proteins, textured wheat protein is an extension of the portfolio with a functional and texturized protein.”
The facility is zero waste – the biorefinery in Belgium utilizes the entire raw material to produce a mix of food, feed and fuel. The wheat protein used in production is a co-product of BioWanze’s ethanol production, the spokesperson explained.
“With textured wheat protein, BioWanze adds another valuable product to the food product portfolio. Textured wheat protein consists of wheat protein, wheat flour and water. The needed wheat protein is a co-product from the ethanol production of CropEnergies at BioWanze. The team at BioWanze will operate the facility while Beneo is marketing the product”
André Tonneaux, director of BioWanze, said the new joint venture will open up further growth opportunities. “As well as expanding production capabilities, this investment will secure future growth and open up important employment opportunities here in Wallonia,” he commented.