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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

GEA inaugurates new innovation centre for alt-proteins

International tech group has inaugurated its New Food Application and Technology Center of Excellence (ATC) in Hildesheim, Germany.

GEA's new centre in germany

The ATC houses a pilot plant for the production of sustainable alternatives to meat, milk, seafood and eggs, through microbial fermentation and cell cultivation.

At the new technology centre, GEA’s food experts will use a cell cultivation and fermentation pilot line to fast-track innovations from the lab to commercial-scale manufacturing.

The new testing platform at the ATC is designed to bridge the gap between the test bench and industrial-scale production without customers having to invest in a large-scale plant from the outset.

Heinz Jürgen Kroner, senior VP of New Food at GEA, said: “Establishing and scaling up a new food production facility is a major task,. In many cases, new food producers are still stuck at the lab scale – with the hygiene, aseptic and process requirements that involves. On the other hand, industrial-scale manufacturing presents much greater technical and financial challenges.”

He continued: “At the ATC, our process experts explore the potential for mass production in order to make this step manageable for food manufacturers. Ultimately, GEA and our customers want to work together on the development of safe, affordable new food products for consumers.”

With cell-based meat being fast-developed, GEA says that research is “turning to precision fermentation for milk proteins”. One of the company’s first customers in this field is Imagindairy, an Israel-based scale-up that will utilise the ATC to develop its milk products.

panna cotta using cell-based milk
A panna cotta made using Imagindairy's milk proteins

Imagindairy’s CEO Eyal Afergan said: “We want to make dairy products without harming the planet. To make that happen, we harness the ancient art of fermentation and combine it with science. This lets us create milk proteins with the taste, functionality, mouthfeel and nutritional value that we love about milk. Together with GEA, we can pave the way to bringing this innovation faster to the market, with the highest possible quality standards.”


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