AAK, a manufacturer of vegetable fats and oils based in Edison, N.J., is building a plant-based center of excellence in the company’s Zaandijk, the Netherlands, location, as the company has been growing demand for plant-based products in Europe.
AAK’s been at that location for decades, which is near Amsterdam, one of the larger agribusiness economies in Europe, offering proximity to customers and the “Wageningen Food Valley,” the company said.
“Investing in this Plant-based Foods Global Center of Excellence reaffirms our commitment to grow our presence in this dynamic and fast-paced category,” said Johan Westman, president and CEO, AAK Group. “Acting as a knowledge center for our plant-based activities, we will develop and showcase our plant-based innovations to support customers across the world.”
To meet the fast-growing demand for plant-based foods, AAK last year launched its AkoPlanet by AAK portfolio with tailor-made vegetable oil and fat solutions for food and beverage manufacturers developing plant-based meat and dairy products for the retail and foodservice channels, including private brands.
The three-story state-of-the-art center showcasing AAK’s co-development process will feature two pilot plants, an analytical laboratory, a customer experience kitchen, and a sensory suite all, enabling customers to bring great-tasting food and beverages to market faster and with confidence.
“The long-term outlook for plant-based foods is strong with sales growth outpacing that of other foods,” said Niall Sands, president plant-based foods, AAK. “This development is driven by several factors, among them a growth in flexitarianism, an increased focus on health and well-being, and sustainability and climate concerns among many consumers.”