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Israeli company opens $18M facility in St. Louis to produce plant-based meat substitutes

At full capacity, the plant is expected to produce more than 15 million pounds of product each year, the company said.

ST. LOUIS — An Israeli publicly traded company with its North American headquarters in St. Louis opened an $18 million production facility Thursday focused on producing “alternative protein,” or plant-based substitutes that look and taste like meat.

Israel Chemicals Ltd., more commonly known as ICL (NYSE: ICL), is a global specialty-minerals company based in Tel Aviv with offices around the world, including its U.S. headquarters in Creve Coeur and a research and development laboratory in Webster Groves. With the opening of the new alternative-protein plant, ICL has reaffirmed its long-term commitment to St. Louis as its U.S. headquarters, company officials said in a news release.

The new 10,000-square-foot alternative protein factory will be the latest of the company’s factories at its 19-acre production campus at 8201 Idaho Ave. in south St. Louis' Carondelet neighborhood. At full capacity, the plant is expected to produce more than 15 million pounds of product each year, the company said.

The alternative-protein product has been under development by the company for many years and is patented under the name Rovitaris, officials said. The product will not be sold direct to consumers but will be marketed to food companies, distributors, restaurants and grocery chains to be branded as their own products. That follows the business model ICL has used with its other food products for more than 75 years, officials said.

The company distributes food specialty products to nearly every major food company and worked for years to develop an alternative-protein product to meet the growing demand among consumers for products that are healthier, plant-based and more sustainable for the environment for consumers worried about climate change, President and CEO Raviv Zoller said while in St. Louis to open the new facility. 

The new plant will transform plant protein into fibers that have a meat-like texture and can be used in a wide variety of food applications to replace meat, poultry or seafood. The fibers are particularly notable for their flavor, natural texture and formulation versatility, the company said. The resulting finished product is all-vegan, allergen-free, kosher- and halal-certified and non-GMO. It also typically has less fat and sodium than comparable meats would, the CEO said. 

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