The alternative protein trend is on an upwards trajectory. According to Mintel, it is predicted that 75% of all protein demand will be plant-based by 2027. The market research firm also expects alt protein products to reach 11% CAGR between 2020 and 2027.
Looking at new product launches around the world, ‘rising star’ alt protein ingredients include pulses, such as pea and faba bean, which have achieved a CAGR of 20% between 2016 and 2021.
Germany-headquartered Beneo is taking notice. The ingredients supplier has announced a €50m investment in a new pulse processing site in Offstein, Germany, where it will produce ingredients for food and animal feed.
A ‘versatile’ crop
Beneo started exploring the potential for processing faba bean ingredients in the ‘recent past’, with promising results, Christoph Boettger, Member of the Executive Board at Beneo told FoodNavigator.
“The customer demand and the growing interest in plant-based proteins encouraged us to look into this further and thus the company has decided to expand operations to include this versatile crop.”
When it comes to pulse-based protein ingredients, customers consider different elements, such as their protein level, taste, and technical performance, as well as whether they are allergen free, Boettger explained.
In talks with customers, Beneo has already received ‘very positive’ feedback regarding faba bean ingredients, we were told.
“Considering that three in four proteins are expected to be vegetal by 2027, according to Mintel, Beneo is well-placed to help food and drink manufacturers worldwide meeting growing demand for such ingredients.”
The ‘versatile’ faba bean can be used as dairy and meat alternatives, and in gluten-free bakery as well as cereals. In feed applications, faba beans serve as a source of vegetal protein for petfood and aquafeed.
Green energy site, locally sourced pulses
For Beneo, faba beans and pulses have particularly attractive sustainability credentials. And the company’s investment in the new plant will help ensure Beneo can meet growing demand for plant-based ingredients ‘as sustainably’ as possible.
As well as providing nitrogen from the air for themselves and subsequent plants – which reduces fertiliser input and helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at farm level – the faba bean crop will be locally sourced from farmers certified by the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI).
Further, Beneo has committed to using green electrical power for the factory’s energy supply.
“The highly efficient, sustainable plant is being built with the aim of zero Scope 1 and 2 and CO2 emissions to meet the company’s ambitious sustainability goals,” said Boettger.
“As a result, the production process will require less energy than competitive products.”
Work has already begun on constructing the plant and is expected to be completed within the second half of 2024, creating up to 25 new jobs at the Offstein plant.
A ‘first step’ in enlarging Beneo’s offering
In the meantime, Beneo will process the raw ingredients in intermediate production facilities until the new plant is fully functional.
This means that first quantities of Beneo’s faba bean ingredients will be available from the start of June 2022 onwards.
The company expects strongest demand for its faba bean ingredients, made up of protein concentrate, starch rich flour, and hulls, to be in Europe, followed by the US market, due to ‘particularly high demand’ for sustainably produced protein-rich ingredients in these regions.
However, Beneo’s faba bean ingredients will be available in all regions.
According to Boettger, the new plant is ‘only the starting point’. “We strongly believe in plant-based ingredients and therefore see the new plant as an important first step in enlarging our protein offering moving forwards.
“This will enable us to produce a wider variety of sustainable plant-based protein ingredients over the coming years.”