GEA is investing €18 million ($20 million) in a U.S. technology center for alternative proteins. 

Based in Janesville, Wisconsin, the 10,000-sq.-meter food tech hub will pilot microbial, cell-based and plant-based foods. GEA’s team of biotechnology experts will uncover solutions for scaling new food for industrial production. A groundbreaking is scheduled for this spring, and the campus is set to open in 2025.

The U.S. is promoting the development of sustainable food options through favorable regulation and openness to innovative food technologies. For example, the Food and Drug Administration approved cell-cultivated chicken meat in 2022 and last year confirmed that the use of precision-fermented milk proteins in foods is safe.

“A number of new food pioneers in the U.S. are already writing innovation history,” says Reimar Gutte, senior vice president, liquid and fermentation technologies, leading New Food at GEA. “When it comes to industrial production, the market is still on the starting blocks. GEA’s new food center bridges a gap in the innovation landscape, driving forward the development of complementary proteins through technology.”

Beyond testing and validating processes, GEA also intends to promote the training of biotechnology specialists. Attached to the GEA site for homogenizers, separators, pumps and valves, which opened in December 2023, new food experts will enhance their knowledge by sharing with other disciplines. 

“Most new food companies are located in North America and the bulk of the investments in alternative proteins flow into this region,” say Arpad Csay, who lead’s GEA’s North American new food business. “Consequently, there is an urgent need for scaling facilities like ours. The GEA platform in Janesville will enable manufacturers to conduct their scaling and testing work without the need to invest in their own capital-intensive infrastructure. In this way, we will help overcome scaling challenges and accelerate the industry’s growth.”

This project marks GEA’s second investment in new food. The company launched its technology center focusing on cell cultivation and fermentation in Hildesheim, Germany, in June 2023.