Nestle takes big steps in plant-based protein

Nestle has entered collaborations with Burcon Nutrascience and Merit Functional Foods, two key players in the development and production of plant proteins. This partnership will enable Nestlé to further accelerate the development of nutritious plant-based meat and dairy alternatives with a favourable environmental footprint.

The partnership combines Nestlé’s expertise in the development, production and commercialisation of plant-based foods and beverages with Burcon’s proprietary plant protein extraction and purification technology, while leveraging Merit’s state-of-the-art plant protein production capabilities.

“Developing nutritious and great-tasting plant-based meat and dairy alternatives requires access to tasty, nutritious and sustainable raw materials as well as proprietary manufacturing technology,” says Stefan Palzer, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer. “The partnership with Burcon and Merit will give us access to unique expertise and a new range of high-quality ingredients for plant-based food and beverages.”

Deal uses Burcon’s proprietary plant protein extraction and purification tech and leverages Merit’s state-of-the-art plant protein production capabilities

These two new partnerships reinforce the earlier collaboration Nestle agreed with Corbion for microalgae-based ingredients for plant-based products. By combining Corbion’s microalgae and fermentation capabilities with Nestlé’s expertise in the development of plant-based products, the two companies aim to produce and commercialize microalgae-based ingredients rich in protein and micronutrients. They will collaborate to improve the functionality, taste and nutritional profile for usage in different types of products.

Microalgae ingredients have several advantages, as they are a vegan source of protein, healthy lipids and various micronutrients. In addition, the production of microalgae has a low carbon, land and water footprint.

Globally, Nestlé has around 300 R&D scientists, engineers and product developers located in 8 R&D centers that are dedicated to the research and development of plant-based products. To complement its internal capabilities, the company also strategically collaborates with researchers, suppliers, start-ups and various other innovation partners.

Nestle CEO, Ulf Mark Schneider, was interviewed at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week. He was asked “What’s the innovation that you’re most excited about right now for 2020?”

Schneider responded: “Overall I think plant-based will be a continuing theme, not only for meat alternatives. This is going to be a ten, twenty, thirty-year thing. I think it’s one of the best ways to meet health goals with sustainability goals… we call it ‘right for you – right for the planet’… this is not going to be a short-term fad.”

Microalgae ingredients have several advantages, as they are a vegan source of protein, healthy lipids and various micronutrients

Nestlé’s plant-based product range includes pea, soy- and wheat-based burger patties, sausages, mincemeat, chicken filets and various prepared dishes. The company also developed pea and oat-based dairy alternatives, almond-, coconut- and oat-based creamers, plant-based coffee mixes as well as a range of non-dairy ice creams. It also recently announced its plans to launch vegan alternatives to cheese and bacon, designed to complement its existing plant-based burger patties.

Increasing access to plant-based alternatives is one way to improve health while helping the planet. To the same end, Nestléhas announced an ambition to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Embracing the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement, to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. “Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face as a society. It is also one of the greatest risks to the future of our business,” said Mark Schneider, Nestlé CEO. “We are running out of time to avoid the worst effects of global warming. That is why we are setting a bolder ambition to reach a net-zero future. Deploying Nestlé’s global resources and industry know-how, we know we can make a difference at significant scale. Our journey to net zero has already started. Now, we are accelerating our efforts,” he added.


Burcon Nutrascience has a global portfolio of patents related to composition, application, and manufacturing of novel plant-based proteins derived from pea, canola, soy, hemp, sunflower seed and various other crops.


Established in 2019, Merit Functional Foods provides quality protein ingredients and blends that offer good purity, taste and solubility.

Source: Nutraceuticals Business Review, 28-Jan-2020

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