Dutch Henk Schouten, with the first tempeh from a Small Fermentation Unit (test location)

Dutch food production system Tempeh Today launches in India

On 25 February 2021 in Bangalore, India, Henk Schouten, CEO of Schouten Europe, will launch an innovative way to produce food in a sustainable and healthy way: Tempeh Today. Protein-rich tempeh is locally produced in high-tech Small Fermentation Units (SFUs). This Dutch innovation makes a future-proof contribution to reducing the protein deficit amongst the Indian population. Tempeh Today’s aim is to implement at least 100 SFUs over the next five years in this rapidly growing region.

Dutch food production system Tempeh Today launches in India

Tempeh

Tempeh is an ancient vegetable protein source based on soy and made by fermenting soybeans. The process occurs through the influence of a fungus (Rhizopus oligosporus), which binds the soybeans into a whole. Tempeh absorbs other flavours well, making it an excellent ingredient for many different dishes. Tempeh is completely plant-based, contains about 22 grams of protein per 100 grams and is rich in B vitamins, iron, minerals and fibre. Tempeh can also be made with other types of beans or chickpeas.

100 Small Fermentation Units in 2025

The Tempeh Today concept will be rolled out across India in the coming years. Schouten hopes to have at least 100 SFUs in operation by 2025. Individual SFUs are monitored from the Netherlands to ensure standardised production, consistent quality and food safety. Local employees in and around SFUs are responsible for the operational side of the business.

The first Small Fermentation Unit (SFU) in India is now a reality
The first Small Fermentation Unit (SFU) in India is now a reality

Henk Schouten explains why they opted for decentralised production with centralised monitoring:

“It is more cost effective to have a decentralised production of tempeh in India than to produce it in one large factory. This also simplifies the local sourcing of raw materials from smaller farmers.”

Tempeh Today the first SFU is installed in Bangalore, India

Distribution

From the Small Fermentation Unit, the tempeh will be locally distributed to a radius of just over six miles. Each SFU also has its own freezer. The energy it requires will come from solar panels. 60% of the tempeh will be frozen and transported to a central location for storage and packaging for supermarkets, the catering industry or the food industry. The remaining 40% of the tempeh will be used in meals for school children. To make this innovative concept a success, Schouten is working together with various Dutch and Indian parties.

Dutch Good Growth Fund

To finance Tempeh Today, Schouten has entered into a partnership with the Dutch Good Growth Fund, part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), which falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For Tempeh Today, Schouten has set up a separate entity under the name Community Food Systems & Services.

Jeroen Willemsen - Dutch food production system Tempeh Today launches in India

The global Protein Puzzle

“This is the Netherlands at its ‘protein-best'”, says Jeroen Willemsen, known as the Protein Commissioner of the Netherlands. Willemsen, who currently works as Innovation Lead Protein Shift at FoodvalleyNL, explains: “Thirty years ago, Dutch scientists put the need for a more sustainable protein system on the agenda so that 10 billion people could have access to sufficient and high-quality protein by 2050. Our research institutions and companies have shown time and again how innovative production techniques play a key role in accelerating this ‘protein transition’. Tempeh Today illustrates how smart Dutch innovations can also create huge impact outside the borders of our small country.”

Impact in India

With Tempeh Today, Schouten offers 800 Indian workers employment for the coming years. This means they will receive a fair wage and be able to provide a better future for their families. Additionally, 2,000 local soybean farmers can receive an income by supplying soybeans to the local SFU. The farmers are being trained to get the land yield and the quality of the soybeans as high as possible and to produce them sustainably.
Tempeh Today hopes to eventually produce a total of 10,000 tonnes of tempeh a year in order to give the Indian diet a healthy and sustainable protein boost.

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Schouten, pionier en innovator in plant-based

In 1990, Henk Schouten was the first Dutchman to start developing and producing meat substitutes based on vegetable proteins. Schouten Europe B.V., a family business based in Giessen, Noord-Brabant, has grown into an important player in the market for plant-based protein products. With the step to Tempeh Today, Schouten confirms its role as a pioneer and innovator in the field of vegetable protein.

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