Angel Yeast to open new R&D centre in China tapping on plant-based and sports nutrition trends

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Angel’s new R&D center building will be completed in February 2021 ©Angel Yeast
Angel’s new R&D center building will be completed in February 2021 ©Angel Yeast

Related tags: angel yeast, R&D, China, plant based, Sports nutrition

China-based manufacturer Angel Yeast is set to open a new R&D centre in Yichang, Hubei Province this year to accelerate product innovation, with a particular focus on the plant-based sector and sports nutrition.

The manufacturer and distributor of yeast and yeast extracts hopes to innovate and develop new yeast strains that can improve flavour in bread and brewing applications as well as targeting the growing plant-based and sports nutrition industries.

This is part of the firm’s 2025 strategy, focusing on five areas in yeast biotechnology, namely healthy food ingredients, nutrition and health products, non-yeast biotechnologies, and eco-friendly packaging materials.

The US$30m, 36,000 square meters R&D center will be completed in February. The company invest around US$50m in R&D annually.

Eric Ao, general manager of Angel Yeast (European Division) told FoodNavigator-Asia​: “Consumers’ growing awareness about the health benefits of plant-based protein is driving consumer interest in meat analogs​.”

A recent report by DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences and IPSOS, a global market research firm foresees the plant-based meat alternative market in Asia to reach US$1.7bn over the next five years.

In countries like China and Thailand, demand for plant-based meat is forecasted to increase 200% over this period, driven by health, taste and sustainability.

Ao said yeast extract has the ability to improve flavour profile of beany, bitter, mouldy, and metallic off-notes in plant-based products, including intensifying meaty notes, as well as increasing the nutritional value especially in protein content.

The meaty flavour notes are achieved when yeast extract which contains nucleotides, amino acids, flavour peptides, and small-molecule proteins undergo the Maillard reaction and break down into nitrogen-rich and sulphur-rich compounds that impart these meaty notes.

The company has since developed several products such as Angel’s Hou-feel/mouthfulness yeast extract which enhances meat flavour profiles, and its Xianness/umami yeast extract to mask off-notes and boost flavour intensity.

The firm is also exploring yeast as an ingredient in sports nutrition.

The nutritional value of yeast protein is similar to that of dairy, and higher than plant-based proteins. It contains about 50 to 70% of proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and micronutrients. 

Since yeast is vegan, gluten and soy free, it would make a good substitute for plant and animal protein, according to Ryan Zhang, R&D director of Angel's research institute.

One example is its AnPro, a yeast protein containing all nine essential amino acids.

Road to 2025

Despite the pandemic, Angel Group achieved net profits of RMB 1bn (US$155m) in the first nine months of 2020, an increase of 52% over the same period in 2019.

In December 2020, the firm launched its Biotechnology Industrial Park project in Yichang, Hubei Province with an investment of US$297m.

Once completed, it will have an annual output of 35,000 tons of yeast and yeast extract, and annual profits estimated to reach RMB130m (US$20m).

Earlier in November, Angel Yeast announced a collaboration with Chr. Hansen to develop probiotic formulations to cater to health needs of different consumer groups, as well as with Novozymes to improve enzyme preparations and applications such as in pasta products.

The firm’s yeast extract factory in Egypt​ also recently received non-GMO certification, since operating two years ago.

With this certification, the firm hopes to further expand into the North America and Canada.

Angel Yeast Egypt has passed the Kosher, Halal, BRC, ISO, and Sedex certification in September 2020.

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