Europe's largest plant-based factory to open in UK

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Plant & Bean has developed plant-based meat products over 20 years for brands and retailers
Plant & Bean has developed plant-based meat products over 20 years for brands and retailers

Related tags Ingredients & nutrition vegan factory design & Maintenance

Plant-based food manufacturer Plant & Bean is to open Europe's largest plant-based food factory in Boston, Lincolnshire and has revealed strategic partners including Griffith Foods and soy processor Gushen alongside this news.

Plant & Bean said the 26.3 hectare, 263,000 m​facility would enable efficient product manufacture and distribution across Europe, helping brands to meet fast-growing demand for plant-based meat.

The company said customers acknowledged large-scale production was essential to removing the cost barrier that currently prevents mainstream consumers from buying plant-based meat products. By producing at scale, locally, these brands can also significantly shorten supply chains, resulting in significant cost-savings.

The site will have a planned initial capacity of 55,000 tonnes. It will provide sub-scale companies, larger international brands and retailers with a fully-certified European manufacturing platform to help them meet growing demand for plant-based meat products and accelerate international expansion.

Plant & Bean aims to replicate the factory with production facilities in the US next year and Asia in 2022.

Partnerships include Griffith Foods and Gushen

The business claims it has created an ‘ecosystem of collaborative innovation’, uniting global research institutions and food tech companies to improve the quality and lower the cost of plant-based meat products. Plant & Bean today (9 December) revealed new strategic partnerships with global food product development company Griffith Foods and specialised manufacturer and ingredient supplier of premium non-genetically modified soy proteins, Gushen to further its aims. It also confirmed it would be working with world-renowned research institutions Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands),​ and Singapore Institute of Technology​.

“Today’s announcement underscores our commitment to repair what is a broken food system,”​ said Plant & Bean chief executive Edwin Bark. “Right now, 65% of consumers do not eat plant-based meats due to price and quality. With our two-pronged approach, we believe we are best placed to make the meaningful change required to tackle these issues.

"With our progressive global manufacturing strategy, brands will finally have the means to scale high-volume product ranges in order to lower the price-point for consumers. As regards product quality, we are making huge strides in improving the taste, texture and appearance of plant-based meat – bringing together the brightest minds in the food industry to reinvent the way we make plant-based meat at the ingredient and process level.”

Cost reduction in peas and beans

With pea protein costing twice that derived from soy, Plant & Bean said it was drawing on its partners to develop computational breeding technology to achieve a 50% reduction in the cost of peas and beans. The company is also working on optimising protein extraction, enabling it to extract multiple protein sources at a significantly lower cost, and on improving product texture, focusing on improved extrusion technology to boost machine efficiencies and lower energy use to this end.

“In the past year, I believe there has been a realisation amongst the plant-based meat industry that if we’re to penetrate the mass-market, the speed of innovation needs to increase dramatically, and that no one company can do it alone,”​ said Bark.

“Our collaborative approach has garnered significant interest across the food ecosystem, and we will continue to grow our network of industry-leading expertise in order to achieve this objective. This will be key to creating delicious, healthy, low-cost, plant-based meats that are accessible to everyone. In doing so, we will achieve our foremost objective to improve global health, the biodiversity of the planet and animal welfare, and having a meaningful positive impact on the world we live in.”

Good Food Institute responds

Commenting on the announcement, a spokeswoman for the Good Food Institute Europe - an international non-governmental organisation helping to build a more sustainable, healthy and just food system by transforming meat production - said: "People from all walks of life want our food system to be sustainable, healthy and just – but studies consistently show that taste, price and convenience decide what most people eat. 

"This huge new factory will help to make plant-based meat more delicious, affordable and accessible for consumers across Europe – smoothing the transition to a better food system.

"But governments cannot put sole responsibility for this shift on companies and consumers. To achieve their climate ambitions and help protect human health, the UK and EU must support the development and scaling-up of plant-based meat."

Brecks Foods

Formerly known as the meat-free division within Brecks Foods, Plant & Bean has a 20-year proven track record of developing plant-based meat products for market-leading brands and retailers.

Plant & Bean received Series A investment of £9m from NR Instant Produce PCL (NRF) in 2019. NRF is the first purpose-led specialty foods manufacturing company to list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

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