Equipment & Technology

GEA to Build Technology Center for Alternative Proteins in United States

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Düsseldorf, Germany-headquartered GEA has budgeted US $20 million (€18 million) to establish a technology center in Janesville, Wisconsin, USA dedicated to sustainable alternatives to meat, dairy, seafood and eggs. The facility will pilot microbial, cell-based and plant-based foods, led by a a team of biotechnology experts forming the basis for scaling new food products for industrial production. Groundbreaking is scheduled for spring of 2024, with the opening to follow one year later.

The United States is among countries promoting the development of sustainable food options through favorable regulation and openness to innovative food technologies. The nation’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already approved cell-cultivated chicken meat in 2022 and last year confirmed that the use of precision-fermented milk proteins in foods is safe.

“A number of new food pioneers in the USA are already writing innovation history. When it comes to industrial production, the market is still on the starting blocks. Our new food center will bridge a gap in the innovation landscape, driving forward the development of complementary proteins through technology,” said Dr. Reimar Gutte, senior vice president of liquid and fermentation technologies at GEA.

“Most new food companies are located in North America and the bulk of the investments in alternative proteins flow into this region. Consequently, there is an urgent need for scaling facilities like ours,” said Arpad Csay, who leads GEA’s North American new food business. “Our platform in Janesville will enable manufacturers to conduct scaling and testing work without the need to invest in their own capital intensive infrastructure. In this way, we will help overcome scaling challenges and accelerate the industry’s growth.”

Biologization of Food Industry Creates Need for New Food Training

Beyond testing and validating processes, GEA also intends to promote the training of biotechnology specialists in the 10,000 square-meter building. Attached to the site for homogenizers, separators, pumps and valves, which opened in December 2023, the new food experts will enhance knowledge sharing with other disciplines.

This project marks GEA’s second investment in a new food hub, which fast tracks innovations from the lab to commercial-scale manufacturing. Prior to this, in June of 2023, the company inaugurated its technology center focusing on cell cultivation and fermentation in Hildesheim, Germany.

— Reported by Malcolm Cameron