Plant-based food contract manufacturer to tap new FoodPlant facility for R&D

(From left) Mr Dominique Kull and Mr Bernhard Schiele of SGProtein give a demonstration of the extrusion machine at the official opening of FoodPlant on April 22, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Conducting trials with new recipes or types of protein would be a very expensive process with industrial-scale machines, but the launch of new small-scale food manufacturing facility FoodPlant will provide a more cost-effective option for businesses.

Singapore-based contract manufacturer SGProtein, which produces plant-based meats and seafood, said it will tap the resources available at FoodPlant for research and development (R&D) efforts and smaller-scale production.

In particular, FoodPlant, which was jointly launched by the Singapore Institute of Technology, Enterprise Singapore and JTC Corporation on Friday (April 22), is equipped with machinery for processing high-moisture meat substitutes on a small scale, which the start-up is unable to do at its own facility in Jurong.

Mr Dominique Kull, co-founder and chief executive of SGProtein, estimated that the company can save about 90 per cent in costs by utilising the FoodPlant facility instead of conducting R&D trials at the company's own facility.

Conducting trials at its production facility, which is a full-sized industrial operation, would be fairly complicated and much raw materials would be wasted, he added.

Running different tests with different sorts of proteins and recipes require the machine to be run continuously, Mr Kull explained.

SGProtein was incorporated at the end of 2020 and its production facility in Jurong was fully operational from the end of February this year. It invested "several million dollars" to set up the facility.

For some smaller start-ups whose orders may not fulfil the minimum quantities required for SGProtein to produce at its industrial space, the firm can now produce a smaller batch of products that the start-ups can test on consumers. SGProtein can then help the start-ups scale up production when they are ready to take on larger orders, said Mr Kull.

At the same time, the company also has the opportunity to utilise other types of technologies and generate new ideas at FoodPlant, he added.

"Last but not least, there will be other start-ups within the space... so it's really the exchange (of ideas) and an ecosystem approach which is going to be very interesting."

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