Dutch alt meat maker Ojah shrugs off slowing market dynamics to double production capacity

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

A plant-based chicken chunk from Ojah
A plant-based chicken chunk from Ojah

Related tags Meat alternatives plant-based meat

The Kerry-owned company has announced the expansion of its production facilities in Ochten in the Netherlands to meet ‘growing demand for its meat alternatives technology’ despite ‘tempering’ growth in some markets.

Ojah was founded in 2009 and acquired by Kerry Group in 2018. The company's patented technology based on High Moisture Extrusion (HME) turns plant protein and water into products with a meat-like bite and texture. Ojah supplies its products to manufacturers, retailers and food service companies around the world, from Europe and North America to Japan and Australia.

According to the company, its proprietary technology produces complex meat like structures from only two components: plant protein and water.

Ojah has developed a range of consumer products, presented to trade as an ingredient or as ready-to-use. Its products have led to an average company growth of 50% year on year, the company claimed.

The company has expanded its production facility by around 3,500m2 to around 10,000 m2 and acquired large-scale equipment, a spokesperson told FoodNavigator.

This will more than double its current production capacity to allow it to continue to provide customers with ‘high quality and innovative products’.

“We are looking at further expansion in the Netherlands, and are investigating local production in other regions, depending on regional acceleration of plant-based markets,” the spokesperson said, adding that operations continue 24/7 to keep up with the strong global demand.

The company has noted changing market dymanics in the category, however.

"Over the past 13 years we have seen the plant-based offering in supermarket shelves grow explosively and become more diverse. We are convinced that the highest quality standard that Ojah has introduced to the market was one of the positive drivers of this acceleration” said CEO Frank Giezen of Ojah BV. “Despite the fact that the explosive growth seems to have tempered somewhat due to the current market dynamics, the demand for high-quality products worldwide only continues to grow. We’re thrilled to announce this expansion, which will enable us to further our mission to contribute substantially to the global shift in protein."

According to AHDB/Kantar in the UK for example, in 2022, volumes of meat-free declined by 3.4% while value grew by 2.2%, as a result of shoppers cutting back as well as some leaving the category.

But market dynamics vary by region and even country, Ojah told FoodNavigator. “What we see is that the more mature markets are experiencing a firmer impact,” a spokesperson said. “In addition, the reduced purchasing power of consumers is influential. This applies not only to meat substitute sales but also to meat sales. Furthermore, consumers are being more selective and scrutinising their ingredients sources. There has been a lot of negative media coverage about the health aspects of meat substitutes. While in many cases it is healthier than the meat products it replaces. We think tasty quality plant-based meat alternatives with minimal ingredient declarations will prevail.”    

The spokesperson added: “Key to Ojah’s growth is highest quality against a competitive price, ticking all the right boxes like non-GMO, clean label, local sourcing, high in fibre and protein, low in salt and saturated fats. Ojah is a mature player with a proven upscalable technology."

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