Politics & Law

The Government of Catalonia Invests €12M in Open Access Facility for Alternative Proteins 

The government of Catalonia will invest €12 million in a pre-industrial facility to extract, produce, and develop alternative protein ingredients and foods.

The facility, located in Alcarràs, Lleida, will provide open access, from R&D to pre-industrial manufacturing, for companies to validate their developments before mass production.

As reported by local news, the complex will feature different production lines, including plant protein extraction, wet extrusion, and final product processing. It will also offer a dedicated precision fermentation facility and an analysis laboratory to help companies bring innovations to market.

According to local media Aral, the facility will “open access to any of the hundreds of Spanish producers currently interested in developing innovative lines of alternative foods to meat.”

The project is part of the Biohub Cat, an initiative supported by the EU, that will also launch the first industrial biopark in the region to achieve a sustainable industrial model. The facility is expected to be operational by the end of 2025, creating between 10 and 15 new jobs.

Plant-based ham on a plate
© Heura

Driving innovation

Last October, Catalonia made a €7 million investment in Spain’s first Center for Innovation in Alternative Proteins, CiPA, focusing on research and innovation in biomass production, plant protein extraction, ingredient functionalization, safety evaluation, food prototypes, and food waste.

According to the food tech accelerator Eatable Adventures, the Spanish food tech sector secured €226 million in 2023 despite the global economic crisis and the sharp drop in investment worldwide. Of 420 startups registered in 2023, 41% belong to the food production and processing category, indicating a dynamic ecosystem in alternative food production.

Meanwhile, according to GFI Europe’s figures, Spain is among Europe’s largest retail markets for plant-based foods, with sales of €447.4 in 2022.

Image courtesy of Cocuus

Sustainable food options

Recently in the Spanish foodtech sector, Foody’s and Cocuus, two companies from Navarra, installed what they claim as the world’s first industrial-scale 3D-printed plant-based facility, to make tons of bacon, foie, tuna, and more. And Zyrcular Foods, located in Seva, Catalonia, develops, produces, and distributes alternative protein foods. Nonetheless, this open access R&D facility for alternative protein will boost the development of sustainable solutions to animal proteins.

Catalonia is facing a drought emergency, and as one of the region’s largest producers of pigs, it faces long-term environmental issues such as air pollution and manure contamination, and water consumption. Ironically, Alcarràs, the location for the future alt protein facility, has been in the headlines for being the Municipality with the most pig farms per square meter in Europe.

The Good Food Institute comments on the new facility: “This pivotal government investment is reflective of the growing role that Catalonia is beginning to take in driving innovation to deliver sustainable food systems and bolster food security in Europe.”

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