GEA to showcase new Mobile Test Center at Anuga FoodTec

The need to sustainably transform the food industry and find alternative sources of nutrition has never been more pressing, concludes a report by the US Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). As a technology partner to the industry, GEA aims to lead the way to tomorrow’s safe, accessible and affordable nutrition by driving game-changing advances in the novel food market. At Anuga FoodTec 2022 in Cologne, GEA will showcase its new pilot line for cell cultivation and fermentation that allows customers to fast-track cellular agriculture’s development from the laboratory to commercial production.

“We will be providing a sneak preview of how technology can help combat increasing food insecurity. Our Anuga showcase under the guiding principle of ‘A Taste of Tomorrow’ will shine a light on GEA’s model New Food initiative, which promotes innovation in the emerging cellular agriculture sector,” says Heinz-Jürgen Kroner, senior vice president Liquid & Filling Technologies at GEA.

The highlight, according to the Group, will be a modular, Mobile Test Center (MTC) to help customers pilot and scale these new foods. Available for customers to rent or purchase for use on their own or GEA’s premises, this fully equipped, pilot-scale process line for cell cultivation or fermentation can be individually configured.

“While laboratory setups alone are enough to provide experimental evidence that a particular formula or cell growth might work for a specific end product, it is only possible to evaluate those results and develop a viable concept for industrial scaling with a pilot line. Our MTC turns concepts into reproducible processes,” says Kroner. In a word, the GEA Mobile Test Center will bridge the gap between laboratory work and demo plants. Using the test centre, customers are able to not only determine parameters ranging from cell viability through mass balance to yield but also to efficiently design processes and develop a future-proof business model for subsequent commercial production.

Up until now, making the leap from lab testing novel foods to validating processes on an industrial level has required a significant investment in a demo plant – despite there being no guarantee of success. With its Mobile Test Center, GEA is offering a new way of providing proof of concept for cellular agriculture. Customers do not need to invest in a full pilot plant to facilitate the process of scaling up to commercial cell-based manufacturing. Instead, they can use the MTC to study cell cultures and microbes as well as improve fermentation strategy, modify formulas, alter growth media and ingredients plus tweak process parameters so as to increase yield and repeatability.

“We need to not only find new ways of feeding people but also to make that food readily available and affordable,” says Kroner, describing the challenge. “Since GEA is a technology expert, this is where our strength lies – in providing our customers with an exceptionally high level of investment security when they enter into novel foods.”

The MTC comprises eight industry-approved, food-grade technologies, including the GEA multifunctional fermenters or bioreactors as well as equipment for mixing, heat treatment, homogenisation, separation and filtration. With the freedom to alter the sequence of the various steps and add or repeat process stages, customers are empowered to test cultivation and fermentation strategies as well as product recovery. Thanks to the test centre’s flexible process architecture, GEA can individually configure, install and commission the plant on site.

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