Alpro’s biggest production facility for plant-based food and drinks, which includes its global plant-based innovation center, is located in Wevelgem, Flanders. Operating under the Danone flag since 2017, Alpro positions itself as a pioneer in the field of plant-based food and aims to offer consumers around the world a wide variety of tasty, healthy and sustainable plant-based food products.
The road between idea and finished product is long but rewarding. Ann De Jaeger, head of Corporate Affairs at Alpro: “Once we have a good idea, the real work begins. Product features need further development, consumer research is started, and we examine which position increases the product’s feasibility in the market. Then, our commercial and logistics teams take action to get the new product onto store shelves in a qualitative and an appealing way. In short, every department takes part in product development.”
To achieve its ambitions, Alpro’s global R&I center in Wevelgem manufactures new products on a smaller scale to test them in-house. “For this purpose,” Ann explains, “we have a multifunctional pilot center where we can make semi-industrial finished products, which are then validated in a tasting room for sensory testing.”
“In addition, our global R&I center comes with a state-of-the-art analytical research lab for the testing of texture, color, composition and more, as well as a kitchen where chefs create recipes and compositions based on Alpro products. We also have all the necessary equipment at our disposal for further research into plant-based alternatives to yogurt – and much, much more.”
In addition to upping the ante at its own research center, Alpro also works with local food research institutes such as ILVO as well as Flanders’ universities – such as KU Leuven – to carry out scientific studies on plant-based nutrition. “Flanders is our home base for production and innovation,” Ann adds.
“Even more, we definitely feel supported by Flanders’ government when it comes to achieving our ambitions. The subsidies we receive are mainly aimed at training our employees – and that pays off: our local talent was and remains instrumental in the success of our plant-based ice cream, our almond drink, Alpro Barista drinks and other innovations.”
We definitely feel supported by Flanders’ government when it comes to achieving our ambitions.
“People and planet are key to our strategy,” Ann concludes. “We seek to offer products that meet consumers’ needs while respecting the limits of our planet. We envision a 100% plant-based future with irresistibly tasty food and wish to bring better health through food to as many people as possible. Those are just some of our ambitious goals, which aim to ensure a healthy planet with healthy people.”