Henk Schouten, CEO of Schouten Europe, will introduce a creative way to prepare food in a sustainable and nutritious way: Tempeh Today. Protein-rich tempeh is locally manufactured in high-tech Small Fermentation Units (SFUs). This Dutch creativity makes a future-proof contribution to lower down the protein deficiency amongst the Indian population. The company’s goal is to implement at least 100 SFUs over the next 5 years in this rapidly growing region.

Tempeh is an age-old vegetable protein source based on soy and produced by fermenting soybeans. The process occurs under the influence of a fungus (Rhizopus oligosporus), which binds the soybeans into a whole. Tempeh absorbs other flavours well, making it a marvellous ingredient for many different dishes. Tempeh is fully plant-based, containing about 22 grams of protein per 100 grams and is rich in B vitamins, iron, minerals and fibre. Tempeh can also be prepared with other kinds of beans or chickpeas.

The Tempeh Today concept will be rolled out across the country in the coming years. Schouten looks forward to have at least 100 operational SFUs by 2025. Individual SFUs are managed from the Netherlands to ensure standardized production, consistent quality and food safety. Local employees in and around SFUs are accountable for the functional side of the business.

Henk Schouten explains why they chose decentralized production with centralized monitoring. “It is more cost-effective to have a decentralized production of tempeh in India than to produce it in one large factory. This also eases the local sourcing of raw materials from smaller farmers.”

From the Small Fermentation Unit, the tempeh will be locally expanded to a radius of just over six miles. Each SFU also has its own freezer. The energy it needs will come from solar panels. 60% of the tempeh will be frozen and moved 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 creative concept a success, Schouten is working collaboratively with several Dutch and Indian parties.

To finance the brand, the company has entered into an alliance with the Dutch Good Growth Fund, part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), which comes under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The company has established a separate entity under the name Community Food Systems and Services.

Jeroen Willemsen, Protein Commissioner of the Netherlands stated- “This is the Netherlands at its protein-best.” Willemsen, who presently works as Innovation Lead Protein Shift at FoodvalleyNL describes-“30 years ago, Dutch scientists called for a more sustainable protein system on the agenda so that 10 billion people could have access to enough and high-quality protein by 2050. Our research institutions and companies have also shown that how innovative production techniques play a major role in speeding up this ‘protein transition’. Tempeh Today explains how smart Dutch innovations can also generate huge impact outside the borders of our small nation.”

The company provides earning to 800 Indian workers for the coming years. This means that they will get a fair wage and be able to offer a better future for their families. In addition, 2,000 local soybean farmers can receive an income by delivering soybeans to the local SFU. The farmers are being given training to get the land yield and the quality of the soybeans as high as possible and to grow them sustainably.

The company anticipates to ultimately producing a total of 10,000 tons of tempeh a year in an attempt to offer the Indian diet a healthy and sustainable protein boost.

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


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