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The Protein Innovation Centre's cutting-edge wet and dry extruder. Image credit: Givaudan

Bühler, Givaudan latest to land in foodtech-friendly Singapore with joint innovation center

April 30, 2021

Swiss companies Bühler and Givaudan have opened a joint R&D center in Singapore to develop plant-based ingredients and products customized to Asian consumer preferences.

Located at an existing Givaudan facility in the city-state, the Protein Innovation Centre is staffed by experts from both companies and will host startups, food processing companies, and academic research teams from across the Asia-Pacific region in order to co-develop plant-based protein products.

Geneva-based Givaudan has been producing flavorings, fragrances, and active ingredients for the food and cosmetic industries since 1895. Its Uzwil-based compatriot Bühler has been going since 1860, manufacturing equipment for food processing and production plants.

The latter has kitted out the Protein Innovation Centre with a pilot-scale wet and dry extruder, which will allow tenants to transform base protein ingredients into meat-like textures. The center’s wet extrusion technology “delivers a fibrous structure more akin to muscle, and higher protein content, as compared with dry extruded products,” the two partners said in a statement.

“By bringing flavor solutions that are vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and natural, as well as technologies such as wet extrusion to Singapore and the region, we are helping to make plant-based foods more delicious, authentic, and accessible to business and consumers,” said Givaudan Taste & Wellbeing Asia-Pacific president Monila Kothari.

“Through the Protein Innovation Centre, we aim to create an ecosystem that supports startups and food businesses in an environment of co-creation. The Centre will provide them access to the expertise, networks, and technology required to create authentic plant-based protein alternatives that meet consumer needs and expectations,” she added.

The facility – which will initially be able to produce up to 40 kilograms of plant-based protein per hour – also features test kitchens, food storage capabilities, and a viewing area for live demonstrations and tastings.

Bühler chief technology officer Ian Roberts described Singapore as being “at the core of Southeast Asia’s vibrant food ecosystem,” adding that the new center is “a step towards achieving our vision of a collaborative and sustainable future of food.”

“The Protein Innovation Centre will not only enable the development of more plant-based protein products across Asia, it will also ensure delicious products can be scaled to the production volumes required to create a positive environmental impact on our food chains,” he said.

Givaudan Buehler Protein Innovation Center Singapore lobby
Image credit: Givaudan

Givaudan and Bühler first announced their intention to open a joint R&D facility in Singapore for plant-based proteins early last year. Since then, a raft of international companies – from established corporates to growth-stage startups – have set up in the city-state, looking to take advantage of local tech capabilities and infrastructure, government-backed incentives, and an open-minded attitude to alt-protein – as well as the country’s helpful location between major emerging markets like China, India, and Indonesia.

Last week, US agribusiness firm ADM opened its own plant-based protein innovation center in Singapore. Its lab will work on work on “tailor-made solutions for the Asian consumer palate,” with a focus on flavor and texture combinations, fats, and binding properties.

Swedish alt-dairy startup Oatly – which recently filed for a $10 billion New York IPO – is establishing a $22 million production facility in Singapore alongside local beverage maker Yeo’s. The factory will produce an estimated 60 million liters of oat-based milk per year, most of which is expected to supply the Chinese market. Another alt-dairy startup, US-based Perfect Day, agreed to set up a Singapore R&D facility in collaboration with the country’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) at the end of last year.

Tackling both plant-based and cell-cultured protein products, US-based Eat Just is jointly investing $100 million alongside fund manager Proterra to build a plant-based protein factory in Singapore. Eat Just secured the world’s first regulatory approval for a cell-cultured meat product in Singapore last December, with the country’s food watchdog clearing its ‘lab-grown’ chicken bites for sale to the public. Last week the US startup partnered with delivery app Foodpanda in Singapore, making cell-cultured meat dishes available for home delivery for the first time.

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