NETHERLANDS – Leading provider of specialty vegetable oils and fats AAK has announced plans to establish a new global innovation center for plant-based foods at its existing premises in Zaandijk, the Netherlands.

The center which is expected to be operational before the end of 2021 will feature two pilot plants, an analytical laboratory, a customer experience kitchen and a sensory suite.

AAK says that the new center will allow customers to leverage on the company’s state of the art facilities and expertise to develop and bring plant-based food and beverages.

The company claims the establishment of the Plant-based Foods Global Center of Excellence will further enhance its capabilities for plant-based food development, strengthening its presence in the fast-growing sector.

“Investing in this Plant-based Foods Global Center of Excellence reaffirms our commitment to grow our presence in this dynamic and fast-paced category,” says Johan Westman, president and CEO of AAK.

To meet the fast-growing demand for plant-based foods, last year AAK launched its AkoPlanet portfolio with tailor-made vegetable oil and fat solutions for food and beverage manufacturers.

To accelerate innovation and drive further growth within the plant-based foods market, AAK has also joined the MISTA innovation platform aimed at bringing together the expertise of larger food and ingredients companies and selected start-ups to optimize ideas and investments.

“Plant-based foods is not just a trend, rather it is rapidly becoming a mainstream lifestyle choice given its growth trajectory,” underscores Niall Sands, president of plant-based foods at AAK.

Sands further noted that the long-term outlook for plant-based foods is strong with sales outpacing that of other foods.

A recently released report by Meticulous Research indicated that the plant-based food market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.9% from 2020 to 2027 to reach $74.2 billion by 2027.

The growth in this market is mainly attributed to the increasing incidence of intolerance for animal proteins, nutritional benefits offered by plant-based food, increasing vegan population, and venture investments in plant- based food.

“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,” Sands added.

AAK has been operating there for decades and this strategic location, near Amsterdam in one of Europe’s largest food and agribusiness economies, offers proximity to many customers and industry peers, as well as the nearby “Wageningen Food Valley.”

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