- Kemin Industries has begun construction on a $40 million manufacturing facility in Verona, Missouri, to produce clean-label protein ingredients for meat and poultry applications. The site will serve as a production hub for Kemin’s new Proteus Solutions Group, which it formed after acquiring Proteus Industries in April.
- Set to open in March 2023, the 38,000-square-foot plant will have an initial capacity to produce applications for more than 100 billion pounds of meat, poultry and protein-based ingredients, and will employ more than 30 full-time workers.
- The manufacturing expansion reflects the huge potential for growth in clean-label meat options, which have seen gains in consumer interest over the past few years as people question the need for certain ingredients in processed products such as phosphates.
When Kemin acquired Proteus Industries, it pointed to the need to meet growing consumer interest in both protein and clean-label ingredients. This manufacturing expansion puts tens of millions of dollars toward meeting that opportunity.
“With its technologically advanced, sustainable and clean-label attributes, our Proteus line is in high demand with food processors that provide meat, poultry and protein-based products to consumers,” said Kemin President and CEO Chris Nelson in a statement. “The Proteus products help to improve yield, nutrition and quality of functional foods, and with this new facility, we’ll be able to serve and expand our customers in the food technologies space.”
Proteus’ functional proteins line includes options designed to help meat processors avoid using phosphates, which improve protein texture and quality but don’t meet clean-label parameters. Its products include a clean-label phosphate alternative and meat block replacement, which Kemin said can increase a meat product’s water-holding capacity and yield. Proteus Industries had patented muscle and water technology that expands meat’s protein structure so it can bind with more water. This also means food manufacturers can avoid using high levels of sodium to perform that same function.
The addition of Proteus’ clean-label functional proteins adds to Kemin’s work in the space with natural preservatives. “It is the focus when we go in to meetings with all of our customers,” Courtney Schwartz, marketing director of Kemin Food Technologies, told Food Dive this fall. “The focus is how can we clean up these labels.”
In addition to the manufacturing build-out, Kemin added to the team overseeing the Proteus product line, appointing more veterans from the protein ingredients firm. They join Bill Fielding, who served as CEO of Proteus Industries for 12 years and is now business director of the Kemin Proteus Group, and former Proteus President and Chief Scientist Steve Kelleher, who invented the company’s clean-label yield-enhancement technology and now serves as research fellow. Former Corporate Vice President Kevin Pentz has been named operations manager. And Scott Gardner, who served as the company’s head of R&D, will oversee customer project implementation, formulation and technical support.
“The growing population and increasing global demand for protein is a very real challenge to the industry, which we expect to continue well past recent events,” Fielding said in a statement. “Innovative ingredients that enable processors to improve quality and yield more naturally and efficiently will play an important role moving forward.”