The new site, in Wanze, is part of the existing BioWanze factory, a biorefinery that produces food, feed and ethanol.
The move came following an increase in demand plant-based proteins worldwide as consumer interest in meat-free alternatives continued to rise, Beneo said.
Made from wheat flour, wheat protein and water, Beneo claimed its textured wheat protein came with a neutral taste and stable texture. It could be used to replace meat in a wide range of traditionally meat-based products, such as burgers, nuggets and bolognaise sauce, the firm added.
‘A big shift in consumer diets’
“We are seeing a big shift in consumer diets as an increasing number of consumers actively try to reduce their meat intake and seek out alternatives,” said Beneo executive board member Christoph Boettger.
“Wheat protein was the most-used plant-based protein in new meat substitute launches in 2018 and we see great potential for this market in 2019 and beyond.”
BioWanze, a subsidiary of ethanol manufacturer CropEnergies, will continue to operate the factory. It said the biorefinery in Belgium utilised the “entire raw material to produce high-quality food, feed and fuel with no waste”.
Boettger said CropEnergies was a “trusted partner” for Beneo in the “exciting new development. Both companies are subsidiaries of Südzucker Group.
‘Exploring the market’
“Through this significant investment and new production facility, Beneo can take its first steps in exploring the market for textured plant-based proteins to allow its customers to capitalise on this rising trend,” he added.
André Tonneaux, director of BioWanze, said: “We look forward to working closely with Beneo as we embark on this new joint venture to produce plant-based proteins.
“As well as expanding production capabilities, this investment will secure future growth and open up important employment opportunities here in Wallonia.”
Beneo is best known for offering functional ingredients derived from chicory roots, beet sugar, rice and wheat. It employs more than 1,000 people across production sites in Belgium, Chile, Germany and Italy.