Ahead of his speaking role at Future Food-Tech we were excited to catch up with Florian Schattenmann, CTO and VP R&D at Cargill to hear his expert opinion on how the company is using innovation to meet this demand and Cargill’s unique approach to developing alternative proteins.

Global protein consumption is projected to increase by more than 50 percent over the next 30 years. How is Cargill using innovation to help meet this demand?

At Cargill, we are driven by our purpose of nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. To meet the nutritional needs of a growing world population, innovation plays a critical role.

Our innovation efforts have helped Cargill ensure our U.S. and broader global protein footprint is already one of the most efficient. Continued innovation is directed across a wide spectrum, from making our animal proteins even more sustainable, to new plant-based, center-of-plate products and even select investments in emerging areas such as cell-based proteins. We are taking an inclusive approach to the future  of protein – investing in animal and alternatives. This will help us respond to growing global demand.

For example, last February, we announced pea- and soy-based patties and ground products for private label retail and foodservice customers. The new products are an important next step in bringing plant-based protein to additional cafeterias, grocery chains, retail stores, fast food and other restaurants. Developed using the broad range of Cargill’s scientific and technological capabilities, the plant-based protein products offer the taste and texture consumers are telling us they want.

More recently, we launched a new plant-based consumer brand in China, called PlantEver™. This launch followed a successful consumer test of plant-based nuggets with KFC in China in April and includes a chicken-alternative nugget and beef-alternative patty. These products are produced locally in Cargill’s facilities in Chuzhou, Anhui Province in China. The launch of PlantEver™ represents an important step for Cargill in bringing even more diverse, high-quality protein options to Chinese consumers.

Our new plant-based offerings are part of Cargill’s inclusive approach to the future of protein. We’ve invested more than $7 billion globally in the animal agriculture business over the last five years, dedicating more than $150 million of that to R&D and innovation over the past three years because we believe innovation has a role to play in sustainably feeding a growing population. Through our BeefUp Sustainability initiative, we’ve committed to achieving a 30 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity reduction across our North American beef supply chain by 2030. A critical portion of the investments in emerging technologies and innovative ideas are geared toward reducing emissions, such as feed additives targeting enteric emissions in cattle.

We’re innovating in other areas, too. Dairy customers can benefit from research done at our network of innovation centers – including our new facilities in Minneapolis and Singapore – to help them serve rising consumer trends, such as dairy products with full-fat or simplified labels. We’ve also created an innovative, plant-based source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids for aquafeed. Currently, aquafeed for farm-raised salmon contains fish oil to help farmed fish reach desired EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acid levels. By combining technology from BASF with our own canola innovation capabilities and aquaculture expertise, Cargill will provide fish farmers access to Latitude™, a plant-based fish oil alternative that relieves harvesting pressure on wild fish populations, while meeting the market need for a reliable supply of long-chain omega-3s. Additionally, we’re leveraging Cargill’s novel fermentation techniques to develop low-calorie sweeteners like EverSweet™ that require significantly less land for production.

Innovation plays a critical role in advancing sustainability to feed a growing population. Cargill is committed to partnering with our customers to provide innovative solutions that deliver for all consumers.

 There are so many companies working in the alternative protein space, what makes Cargill unique?

The biggest differentiators for Cargill are our breadth of capabilities, our depth of knowledge in animal protein and food science, combined with our global scale and supply chain. Many players in the alternative protein space today specialize in one product or category. At Cargill, we can mobilize cross-functional teams with deep expertise in animal protein, as well as plant-based protein ingredients, such as soy, pea, corn, etc.  This broad spectrum of ingredient science, formulation expertise and processing capabilities enables us to effectively create innovative and customized solutions for our customers.

Of course, the size and scale of Cargill and its global supply chain are also an instant competitive advantage to get new product solutions scaled and distributed.


Cargill has several joint ventures and investments in alternative proteins, including Memphis Meats and Aleph Farms. Why are you looking externally for these capabilities?

To remain innovative in such a fast changing world, we constantly assess and adjust our skillsets and capabilities to ensure we can deliver innovative solutions to meet the needs of our customers and ultimately, the consumers. In many cases, this means strategic investments within our company, like the ones already mentioned. Other times, it means working with external partners and leveraging the external R&D ecosystem.

As a result, we have supplemented our significant in-house investments in traditional animal protein and plant-based protein ingredients with targeted investments in complementary plant-based and cell-based protein.

To date we’ve invested in Memphis Meats, a U.S.-based leader in cultured protein products; Aleph Farms, an Israel-based cell-based protein company focused on growing complex meat varieties like steak and PURIS, North America’s largest producer of pea protein. These partnerships complement our ongoing protein investments and allow us to maintain leadership across the protein spectrum.


Does Cargill think the future is vegetarian or vegan?

Actually, it’s broader than that as it also includes omnivores, flexitarians, and more.  Meat, fish, eggs and milk will remain a central part of many people’s diets and we passionately support our customers who work to safely and sustainably provide the world’s animal-based protein. We also recognize that the food we eat is a personal choice and Cargill strives to provide options across the spectrum of consumer demands. Today in the U.S., about 5 percent of consumers identify as vegetarians, for example. Plant-based meat and dairy alternatives may be the option of choice for consumers who choose vegetarian or vegan diets – or those who require allergen- or lactose-free formulas, or maybe don’t have access to animal protein for some reason.

When you look ahead 10-15 years, what do you think will be the biggest trends in food?

Some of the key trends that are going to shape the next 10-15 years are personalized nutrition, including the interaction of food with the gut microbiome, as well as increased transparency of the food supply chain or “food with a story.” Also, sustainability from pretty much every angle and an accelerating drive towards cleaner food and food ingredients will continue to be important. Yet, convenience will not go away and in fact, it will likely become an even bigger part of daily life. All of this will provide ample opportunity for innovation!

 What will you be looking out for at Future Food Tech?

I’m simply excited to participate in Future Food-Tech to connect with other industry leaders and experts on where food is going, the increasing personalisation of nutrition and how Cargill can help shape the future. I’m looking forward to learning about the latest advances in emerging fields such as ingredient informatics and advances in food science on a molecular level. It’s going to be an exciting decade for food and Future Food-Tech is THE place to kick off the next ten years!

Florian will join the fireside chat: From Early Trends to Mass Market: Big Food’s Move into Plant-Based on September 17 at Future Food-Tech