KARLSHAMN, SWEDEN — AAK AB has unveiled plans to establish a Plant-based Foods Global Center of Excellence on the company’s premises in Zaandijk, The Netherlands. The three-story center will include two pilot plants, an analytical laboratory, a customer experience kitchen and a sensory suite.

“The long-term outlook for plant-based foods is strong with sales growth outpacing that of other foods,” said Niall Sands, president of plant-based foods at 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.” 

The center is expected to be operational by the end of 2021.

“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 chief executive officer of 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.”

AAK has been active in the fast-growing plant-based foods category, and last year launched its AkoPlanet by AAK portfolio, which includes vegetable oil and fat solutions for food and beverage manufacturers developing plant-based meat and dairy products for the retail and foodservice channels.