Two Swiss firms set up innovation centre for plant-based alternatives to suit Asian palate

SINGAPORE – Two Swiss giants – flavour and fragrance maker Givaudan, and plant equipment manufacturer Buhler – have teamed up to launch an Apac (Asia-Pacific) Protein Innovation Centre dedicated to creating and developing plant-based food that caters to the Asian palate.

This is the first of such centres worldwide for the partnership, with more set to roll out globally. Its launch Monday (April 26) comes shortly after global food ingredient and flavour supplier ADM launched its new plant-based innovation laboratory in Biopolis – further cementing Singapore’s position as a growing hub for meat alternatives.

The Protein Innovation Centre’s official opening was attended by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan, as well as invited guests and media.

The 400sq m facility is a new addition built within Givaudan’s existing site in Woodlands, which is also its regional Taste & Wellbeing headquarters. It houses a product development kitchen, storage facilities, meeting amenities, and a viewing area for live demonstrations.

Up to 40kg of plant proteins can be produced in an hour at the facility, which also offers dry extrusion and a newer wet extrusion technology to produce a fibrous structure akin to muscle, as well as higher protein content.

Food processing companies, start-ups, and university researchers can tap the technology, equipment and expertise of the centre to develop new products. The process starts from raw material selection to product development and consumer testing.

There are already projects in the pipeline, with growing interest from businesses in Asia, particularly from the South-east Asia region, as well as Japan and China, says Mr Alex Ward, Givaudan’s head of regional innovation for Apac.

He said: “We get companies that want to improve existing products, those that have a protein source and are not sure what to do with it, or those who have a concept and don’t know how to turn it into a prototype. We can work on these end-to-end. We can take a protein source and turn it into a culinary dish.”

Calling the pairing of Givaudan and Buhler a “power couple in the agri-food sector”, Mr Tan – who is also Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth – highlighted that the partnership is a “welcome boost to the alternative protein industry”.

He also highlighted other platforms that accelerate alternative protein product innovation such as the Food Innovation Resource Centre by Singapore Polytechnic and Enterprise Singapore; and the Food Tech Innovation Centre by Temasek and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).

He said: “Fuelled by these partnerships, we want to support our companies to capture opportunities in the agri-food tech industry, while strengthening Singapore’s food resilience.

“Singapore is proud to be South-east Asia’s leading food and nutrition hub, and our goal is for Singapore to become a global hub for agri-food tech, be it in alternative proteins, urban agriculture, or aquaculture.”

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