Meat replacer from Limburg will help ‘Joe Sixpack’ lose weight

Scelta Mushrooms has recently started a production plant for mushrooms with a prolonged shelf life with added vitamins. The white mushroom as a healthy meat replacer. This will be an international breakthrough predicts the owner of the family owned company from Limburg.

The afternoon has passed already for the bigger part when Jos Snijders enters the stage. The retired clergyman has been asked to bless the new factory, the installations and the employees. With holy water, brush and bucket he is getting started, observed by a few hundred guests. After his proceedings Scelta Essenza, as is the name of the mushroom factory, has officially been opened.

Support of  banks

Owner Jan Klerken is watching the scene from some distance. He is happy. The Limburger entrepreneur, who has been active within the field of mushrooms, over a few years has invested 40 million Euro in new construction and extension of his factories. His company Scelta Mushrooms received support of the banks, as within the industry Klerken is considered an innovator.

Klerken has the highest expectations for his new plant at Fresh Park Venlo. The mushrooms that are being processed and packaged there, will find their way to burger chains en sandwich bars in the USA and Asia. McDonald’s in Singapore already is one of the customers.

The love for hamburgers

Klerken (61) thinks he has an ace up his sleeve. The average American still goes crazy for hamburgers and pizzas, however they also have to watch their health. A lot of them are overweight. So the fastfood chains are looking for meat replacers and healthier products.

The processed mushrooms from Scelta Essenza have a shelf life of two years without any added chemicals, according to the company. They are cut, dried and conserved in their own juices. They are transported in bags of a few kilos. The mushrooms don’t need to be kept in the freezer of refrigerator. They can serve as the vegetable component in a meat burger, a topping of a hamburger or pizza, or as a vegetable in a pasta. Scelta has also added vitamine D to the mushrooms, to add to the health claim.

   ‘Within a few years we will work at full capacity in Venlo’

The specific treatment has been invented and developed at The Scelta Institute, a snow white building down the road in Venlo. This is the location where research takes place and where the company gives demonstrations and lectures. This is also where the head office of the food enterprise is located.

Four robots for growth

For five years they have been testing in a smaller factory in Broekhuizen. The new factory in Venlo has been operational since June, counts 25 employees and is now working at 40% of its capacity. Scelta has acquired four robots, which will be able to help the production grow when the mushrooms will be successful. The losses the subsidiary makes at the moment, are calculated losses. “Within a few years we wil work at full capacity’, predicts CCO Albert van der Vlies. ‘We will bring it to the attention of the market everywhere within the next few months.’ For a start at the Fruit Attraction fair that will be held in Madrid next week.

The Netherlands is a mushroom country. Of 260 million kilos of mushrooms in The Netherlands, 40% is for the fresh market and 60% for industrial processing. The total sales worth is just below € 500 million. On the world ranking The Netherlands holds a third place, after China and Poland.

Scelta is a heavy weight. Of the total amount of mushrooms that is grown in The Netherlands, the Limburger company purchases more than 30%. They don’t take the mushrooms in the well known blue containers. These are for the consumer market; Scelta only uses mushrooms that are cultivated and harvested for the industry.

Ambassador of mushrooms

The company buys its mushrooms from a steady group of about twenty cultivators. The mushrooms are machine harvested and will be processed at one of the seven factories. Sometimes they are dried, sometimes frozen or processed to vegetable snacks or used as an extract. Most mushrooms are sold across our borders, with the USA as the largest market.

Klerken who is no longer active as CEO, but still as ‘ambassador’ and product developer, sees a growing demand for sustainable and vegetarian dishes. He will use his knowledge and insights he has gathered over the years, as well for other vegetables.

Scelta has been known for previous side steps. Since the beginning of last year they also produce fries from broccoli and cauliflower. ’These products show a big growth’, says CCO Van der Vlies. Chances are that Scelta, within the next five years, will market more meat replacers.

Source: Financieel Dagblad 

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