GEA, a global leader in engineering systems for the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries, has revealed plans to invest EUR 18 million (approximately USD 20 million) in a state-of-the-art technology center focused on alternative proteins in Wisconsin, USA.

The new facility, to be located on the GEA Campus in Janesville, will specialize in piloting microbial, cell-based, and plant-based food technologies. The construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2024, and with an anticipated opening in 2025, the center aims to bridge the current gap in the market for industrial-scale production of alternative proteins. The technology center will help gear the company up to support the industry’s anticipated growth, as indicated in a GEA survey last year, which found that chefs expect a quarter of meals to incorporate alternative proteins by 2040.

“We will help overcome scaling challenges and accelerate the industry’s growth”

GEA’s investment in Janesville follows the successful launch of an alternative protein pilot center in Hildesheim, Germany, last year. The German facility, which focuses on cell cultures and microbial fermentation, enables GEA’s customers to test the commercial viability of their products without the need for significant capital investment in large-scale plants. Some of GEA’s prominent customers include Israeli startup Imagindairy, plant-based meat company Vivera, and mycoprotein brand Quorn Foods.

Scaling and testing for alt protein

The Janesville technology center aims to facilitate the scaling and testing processes for alternative protein manufacturers. Arpad Csay, leader of GEA’s North American new food business, stated, “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. The GEA platform in Janesville will enable manufacturers to conduct their 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.”

In addition to process testing and validation, GEA plans to foster biotechnology expertise through training programs within the 10,000-square-meter facility. This initiative is part of GEA’s broader strategy to promote interdisciplinary knowledge sharing and innovation in new food technologies.

Dr. Reimar Gutte, Senior Vice President of Liquid and Fermentation Technologies at GEA, commented, “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. GEA’s new food center bridges a gap in the innovation landscape, driving forward the development of complementary proteins through technology.”

Connect with the GEA team at Future Food-Tech in San Francisco on March 21-22 to find out more.