Family owned UK-based business Naylor Nutrition will be upscaling cabbage trimmings surplus from coleslaw production from their cabbage farm into something truly valuable: sustainable protein. With financing through Invest International, backed by an Atradius DSB export insurance, an eco-conscious factory is built with extraction machinery developed by Dutch company Colubris. A major step towards reducing the amount of food that goes to waste and creating a more sustainable, plant-based food system. CEO Simon Naylor “can’t wait to open the factory and see the healthy brassica power spread around the globe.”
Naylor Farms is one of the leading coleslaw cabbage growers in the UK and Europe. The Naylor family now is taking a new step in their 110-years history by building the world’s first brassica plant-based protein extraction facility in Lincolnshire to produce protein ingredients made from cabbage.
Simon Naylor explains during an interview online: “We are farmers and a farming family, and have been growing cabbages for decades. Mainly brassicas with a focus on green cabbages for coleslaw production in the UK. The British are big coleslaw-fans, but since customers prefer their coleslaw to be white, the green leaves are left out of the product. As a result of this, we end up with 500 tons of trimmings, a 30 plus percent amount of the cabbages are thrown away. For years I have been thinking what to do with this? Knowing that there is a growing need for sustainable plant-based food with less ecological footprint than for example soy. So, that’s how my discovery journey started.”Read more on our financing solutions & for whom
Invest International’s stepping in was “exactly what we needed”, tells Simon Naylor. “Although I must admit that with us being farmers, this process was a new challenge and involved looking into the required ESG accreditations. Of course, ESG is already part of our way of working, we look after the environment but not in corporate structured way. In that sense, it has elevated our company to a different level, with us adopting a future mindset.”
Photos: © Naylor Nutrition.
What led you to the Netherlands? – “Of course, you [Netherlands] have a large agricultural history, legacy and expertise in the Agri-food business. While looking for a way to turn whole head cabbages, leaves and trimmings, into functional ingredients for the plant-based food sector, I met Hans and Laurens. I always refer to them as ‘the scientists’. They already had been working on extracting protein from duckweed and onions. So, I figured why not brassicas? The cabbage leaves travelled to Holland for testing. With some tweaks, here and there as well as in depth research, after almost 8 years of R&D development, we ended up with a functional fibre, protein and umami syrup out of the vegetables. The bases for our first factory which we have started to build in February this year, near our Naylor Farms. Truly exciting; there is nothing like it on the planet at this time.”
Together with “the scientists from Holland” the company invented a patent pending gentle cold extraction process that produces protein-plus functional ingredients from cabbages. “Hans and Laurens were already working with machinery from Colubris from Winterswijk. The deal was building the factory on our properties with Colubris’ machinery for protein production. Constructed by Kirk Connected Construction, a trusted business partner on our side, wanting to contribute to this project. He is very excited to be part of this journey; every day I know, at 5 ‘o clock he is texting me with an update. Suddenly it all came together: the solution for upscaling the otherwise wasted trimmings, the scientists from Holland, the machinery from Colubris, the right constructor and the impact we could create.”Read more on what we do in the Agri-food sector
However, there was one crucial piece of the puzzle missing: financing. Simon Naylor (in the picture): “We talked to several commercial parties that were interested, but in the end it took too long. They all want to see the egg, but we need to build the chicken first. We’ll invite them over once the factory is ready. Then Invest International popped up and the commercial financiers stepped aside, filling the gap and willing to take the risk they provided us with a loan agreement.”
By the way, what does your 80-year-old father, who is still actively involved in the farm, think about this development? “He keeps saying: I try not to think that if you are not on a tractor you are not doing anything, [laughs]. But yes, he is very excited as well, and he does see the future impact of it in the UK and worldwide.”
Is the beginning of the factory construction a start for something bigger? “Our aim is to reduce nutritional poverty and improve public health with minimal environmental impact. Using regenerative farming practices, with zero waste and zero air miles. Let’s first see what the factory in Lincolnshire is going to do, I hope it will be ready in 2024. And, yes I then foresee constructing more factories producing cabbage protein, helping to reduce the impact of pea and soya on the environment. Getting a nice product for humans, animals and the food industry, reducing the meat we eat. We are exploring many avenues including the use of our allergen free protein products in the pharmaceutical sector.Read more on our view on impact
The cabbage-based protein products can serve as a replacement for meat and other plant-based protein products with larger carbon footprints and lower nutritional values, thereby addressing key global development challenges.
Investment Manager Freek van Muiswinkel, part of the Invest International deal-team with Naylor Nutrition, adds: “Once operational, the facility is estimated to daily produce ~ 15 tons of plant-based protein products, based on daily input of up to 100 tons of cabbage. Thereby, it offers a Dutch solution for the global challenge to feed the growing population in a sustainable manner. The fit with Invest International’s Agri-food strategy comes through the impact expected to be achieved through SDG 8, 9, 12 and 13.”
Colubris is a Dutch family business with over 35 years’ experience in separation and purifying technologies. Offering a complete range of products and processes for water, waste and bioresource solutions and technology which contributes to a sustainable world.Read more on Colubris
Naylor Nutrition combines farming and science to create innovative products by harnessing the natural health benefits of cabbage, delivering an inclusive superfood. They aim to reduce nutritional poverty and improve public health with minimal environmental impact. Using regenerative farming practices, with zero waste and zero air miles – we supply ingredient solutions to our customers with highly nutritious protein, fibre and an umami flavour enhancer. The company has the ability to place their farms and factories around the globe, providing customers with local supply & zero air miles, wherever they are based.Read more on Naylor Nutrition