Food ingredients company Cosucra Groupe Warcoing has inaugurated a new spray dryer and production line at its base in western Belgium, bringing to a close a €35 million industrial expansion project.
The announcement represents the culmination to an investment programme first announced by Cosucra five years ago. The Belgian business hopes the plant in Warcoing, 13 miles west of Lille, will allow it to keep pace with global growth in the pea protein market.
Cosucra global commercial director Eric Bosly said: “We made a major announcement five years ago to say that we were strongly believing in the pea market and investing here in Warcoing. We had a very beautiful vision of what we were willing to do. We had an exciting project of a new plant, a very efficient plant. Cosucra has been in the pea business for nearly 30 years, and we have had during that time a very good experience of process and we have built on that experience, to our vision, the most efficient plant we can think about.”
The project was implemented in two distinct phases: Cosucra had already completed the first investment phase, which involved adding a second refining line for the pea proteins, adding a third packing line, and extending the warehouses on site for raw materials and finished goods.
In the second and most recent phase, the business replaced the final processing and drying facilities for the proteins; the main piece of equipment installed was a large-capacity automatic dryer that will allow drying time to be cut in half while also reducing CO2 emissions.
The dryer itself is the largest of its kind built in Belgium in the last decade.
The investments are aimed at enabling Cosucra to meet increasing global demand for pea protein in food and beverage applications.
In the coming years, Cosucra will continue to invest in Europe, which it described as “the most efficient region for crop growing” and where it operates close relationships with its farmer-suppliers. All of the yellow pea used for its Pisane pea protein is obtained from within 250km of the Warcoing plant.
It will also commission a new fibre dryer that is set to increase capacity by a factor of three, but it’s in the pea market where it expects to see the largest growth. Of all existing alternative protein supply, Cosucra said that 90% was plant-based, and Bosly said it would take a long time if that were to be reversed.
Pea protein, he said, meets consumer demand on many fronts.
“Population growth means the demand for protein is increasing, also linked with consumer habits: more and more concentrated proteins are requested,” he said. “We see also that consumers are more influenced by ‘how is my food being manufactured?’, ‘what is the impact on earth?’, ‘how can I through my behaviour change or reduce my impact on earth?’.
The investments have been made at Cosucra’s plant in Warcoing, in western Belgium.
“On those topics, plant protein is very well-placed compared to meat protein, for example. Also, changes in habits and the fact that more and more consumers want to avoid or reduce dairy products to avoid digestive problems. And last but not least, there is the flexitarian effect where in Europe and the US, one consumer out of three wants to eat less meat and wants to eat meat only every 2-3 days.
“Based on that, we see that the market is growing and is growing globally, and if we now have a look to the regions, today North America is the largest market and the forecast for 2022 shows that it will remain the largest one with 41% of the share. Second one will become Asia-Pacific with 33% and [then] Europe with 22%.”
Cosucra has established a North American subsidiary to cover the US, Canada and Mexico – and it already has three sales representatives in Asia Pacific, reflecting global growth.
“Five years ago we had ultra-dominant soy protein on the market of plant-based ingredients,” Bosly explained. “Today we see that pea is now around 17% of new product launches on a global basis. Concerning for example the US, we see that awareness is growing rapidly and 80% of US consumers know about this ingredient and have a positive image of pea protein.”
In Europe, he said the figures suggested the number of product launches with pea protein would double over the next four years, despite the region only being projected to be the third-largest by market share in 2022.
The company has appointed Frank G. Truong as general manager to lead the growth of Cosucra’s business in the US, Canada and Mexico, and the company acknowledges the need to grow its business worldwide. Truong has extensive expertise in speciality food and beverage ingredients, having previously worked for Fonterra, Tate & Lyle and AAK.
Bosly summarised: “We experience a very strong growth of the protein market and we believe that it’s just a beginning. We really want to bring to the market a new standard of quality equipment – so that I feel is the message in these investments.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
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