Bunge to spend $550M on protein concentrate plant

Agribusiness giant Bunge plans to build a $550 million protein concentrate facility in Indiana to make key ingredients used in the production of plant-based foods, processed meat and other products.

The new facility, which will be constructed next to Bunge’s soybean processing plant in Morristown, will process nearly 4.5 million additional bushels of soybeans to make soy protein concentrate and textured soy protein concentrate. Construction is likely to start in the first quarter of 2023 and be commissioned by the middle of 2025. The new plant will create about 70 full-time jobs.

“Plant proteins are a natural extension of our industry leading oils, fats, and specialty ingredient portfolio,” Greg Heckman, Bunge’s CEO, said in a statement. “This new facility is an important step in our long-term strategy to strengthen our capabilities in downstream higher value food ingredients.”

The announcement, Bunge said, comes after it recently invested an additional $10 million to enhance its plant protein technical capabilities near its St. Louis headquarters. The investment enhanced its ability to work with alternative meat and dairy, processed meat, and beverages that complement its bakery and fry labs.

Despite a slowdown in the consumption of plant-based meats, foods made from non-animal sources are expected to grow as people keep a closer watch on what they eat, how it’s produced and the impact production has on the environment. For companies, such as Bunge, constructing a plant now that will take a few years to complete will enable it to meet demand should it materialize in the future.

In the last year and a half, other firms have announced new construction projects to address an expected jump in consumption. 

Puris retrofitted an old dairy plant in Minnesota that more than doubled its production capacity for pea protein.

Cargill announced plans in May to build a new soybean processing facility in Missouri to support the growing demand for oilseeds used in food, animal feed and fuel markets. A few months later, it committed $50 million to build a corn syrup refinery in Iowa that will expand the company’s ability to meet the growing demand for the ingredient in a more sustainable way.