Feeling the pulse

Pulses have made an incredible comeback on our menu in recent years. Resource-saving cultivation, their nutrient richness, and the continuing trend towards vegetarianism or flexitarianism are just some of the reasons for the rapid rise of pulses to “superfood” status. As the largest processor and distributor of pulses in Northern Europe, Müller’s Mühle has always had a keen sense of the market  and with the installation of a processing plant to produce concentrates from pulses, they’re now catering to an almost insatiable hunger for meat substitute products. The long-established German company is benefiting from the partnership between Bühler and Hosokawa Alpine.

The question driving food producers, politicians, and aid organizations around the world is more acute than ever: 

How can we feed up to 10 billion people sustainably and healthily in 2050? How do we, as a society, provide 50 percent more protein over the next three decades and produce these 265 million tons of additional protein with existing resources?


Ultra- modern Plant II Ultra- modern Plant II Markus Prantl and Alexandra Londono Baderschneider in the ultra-modern "Plant II".

There are many promising approaches, such as algae, insect farming, or cultured meat. In terms of health benefits and sustainability, pulses offer the complete package. They are gluten-free, have a high fiber and protein content, are low in fat, and boost important micronutrients such as iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. According to a study by the United Nations, lentils, beans, or chickpeas require only about 160 liters of water to produce 500 grams; by comparison, 500 grams of beef require nearly 7,000 liters of water.

The comeback of pulses from their niche in Europe comes as no surprise to Markus Prantl, Managing Director at Müller’s Mühle in Gelsenkirchen, Westphalia. “We have been processing pulses for around 125 years and also sell them as our own brand,” he explains. As Northern Europe’s largest processor, Müller’s Mühle feels the pulse of the market like no other. The trend toward healthier, more sustainable diets and the increased demand for meat substitutes for vegans, vegetarians, or flexitarians – people who live on a predominantly vegetarian diet but occasionally consume high-quality meat – has been strongly felt by Müller’s Mühle for several years.

“We were unable to produce the protein concentrates in line with customer requirements using our technology at the time. After a thorough analysis, we decided to build ‘Plant II’ on our premises with Bühler, which focuses on the production of protein concentrates,” explains Prantl.

We have been working with Bühler for decades and are very satisfied with their expertise and service.

Markus Prantl, Managing Director at Müller’s Mühle

Seizing opportunities

From the very beginning, Müller’s Mühle wanted to work with Bühler and Hosokawa Alpine to design and build the process equipment. “We have been working with Bühler in particular for decades and are very satisfied with their expertise and service,” Prantl says. The teams from Bühler and Hosokawa – which entered into a strategic collaboration in June 2021 to accelerate and strengthen the production of healthier and more sustainable plant protein solutions – immediately sat down together and each developed customized solutions in their areas of expertise for “Plant II”.

Alexander Langer, Area Sales Manager for the Food Division at Hosokawa Alpine, sees the seamless process transitions as decisive for the successful outcome of the project. “In this state-of-the-art plant, Bühler covers the upstream steps of coarse and fine cleaning, as well as shelling. Then the pulses are transferred to our process steps. 


Alexander Langer of Hosokawa Alpine Alexander Langer of Hosokawa Alpine Alexander Langer of Hosokawa Alpine appreciates Bühler’s high quality.

This gives us certainty that the material is of impeccable quality before it enters our fine grinding and air classification stages. In this step, the protein and starch fractions are separated. The goal is always to achieve the highest possible protein content and maximum yield,” Langer explains.

While starch fractions are used to produce baked goods, pasta, and noodles, protein concentrate is the basis to produce either animal feed or meat substitutes using dry or wet extrusion.

This consistently high quality throughout the entire value chain not only guarantees flawless end products, but also reduces food waste and ultimately increases Müller’s Mühle’s yield and margins

Alexander Langer, Hosokawa Alpine


plant-based meat, buger plant-based meat, buger Demand for plant-based meat alternatives, such as this burger, has grown exponentially in recent years.
Chickpea protein concentrate Chickpea protein concentrate Chickpea protein concentrate (left), among others, is just one of the ingredients used in these meat alternatives.

The fact that Müller’s Mühle wanted to enter the fast-growing market for meat substitute products came as no surprise to Randy Urban. He is the Team Manager for Customer Service Sales at Bühler and was up close and personal with the project from the initial idea to the start-up. “I have been privileged to support Müller’s Mühle for many years with our solutions for processing pulses and rice. With the exploding demand for concentrates made from pulse proteins for the production of plant-based meat alternatives, it was the logical step for Müller’s Mühle to enter this market,” says Urban.

More than a plant

Randy Urban and Alexandra Londoño-Baderschneider Randy Urban and Alexandra Londoño-Baderschneider Randy Urban and Alexandra Londoño-Baderschneider
the state-of-the-art plant at Müller’s Mühle is testament the state-of-the-art plant at Müller’s Mühle is testament The state-of-the-art plant at Müller’s Mühle is testament
The comeback of pulses. The comeback of pulses. Testamented and the comeback of pulses.

Urban’s colleague Alexandra Londoño-Baderschneider is the Head of Market Segment Pulses at Bühler and is responsible for the fast-growing pulses business. “What is special about “Plant II” is that the entire project originated from our Customer Service organization, from customer consulting to commissioning of the plant. In addition, after years of planning, we started the installation in the middle of the second wave of Covid-19 in November 2020, which required maximum flexibility from everyone involved,” she recalls.

Despite the challenging circumstances, Müller’s Mühle started up the plant on schedule in April 2021. “Our team, led by Randy, was always there for Müller’s Mühle during this challenging time and found an answer to every challenge – this was the only way we were able to deliver on schedule.”


For Londoño-Baderschneider, “Plant II” in Gelsenkirchen is emblematic. “The fact that pulses are making such an incredible comeback to our menu and enabling Müller’s Mühle to open up new areas of business naturally makes us very happy. But the plant here is also a sign that consumers are increasingly concerned with the impact of their diet on health, sustainability, and our environment as a holistic system,” she explains.

Pulses offer more than nutritional benefits for consumers. At the very beginning of the value chain, they contribute strongly to improving soil quality by fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere and improving soil biodiversity, fertility, and structure.

It is the daily purchasing decisions of customers that are ultimately critical to transforming the entire value chain and, in turn, closing the protein gap

Londoño-Baderschneider, Head of Market Segment Pulse at Bühler

Müller’s Mühle processer Müller’s Mühle processer Müller’s Mühle processes up to 120 tons of pulses a day into protien concentrate

The journey has just begun

Tobias Breuer is checking production parameters at his table in the state-of-the-art plant. As Plant Manager at Müller’s Mühle, he is responsible for the planning, construction, and operation of “Plant II”.

Initially, Müller’s Mühle were a little hesitant in taking the step to start producing protein concentrates. “We were very motivated to include protein concentrates in our portfolio, especially since the demand from our industrial customers was growing with each passing day. Nevertheless, you cannot acquire the expertise in grinding and protein shifting overnight,” Breuer recalls. “Thanks to the solutions and expertise of Bühler and Hosokawa, we now have a plant in operation that can process up to 5 tons of pulses per hour into protein concentrates – that’s 120 metric tons per day in full operation.”

 Thanks to the solutions and expertise of Bühler and Hosokawa,  we now have a plant in operation that can  process up to 5 tons of pulses  into protein concentrates per hour.

Tobias Breuer, Plant Manager at Müller’s Mühle

Photo of Tobias Breur Photo of Tobias Breur Tobias Breuer and his team are meeting the rapidly growing demand for protein concentrates.

With this state-of-the-art plant, Müller’s Mühle is ideally equipped for the ongoing boom in the vegetable meat alternatives business. This begs the question of where the journey will lead. “There is always potential for optimization in daily operations. We are currently working on a TotalCare service agreement to ensure reliable operation of the plant. In addition, we want to use digital solutions to ensure that Müller’s Mühle can get the maximum out of the plant,” Urban explains.

For Markus Prantl, “Plant II” represents a stopover on a longer journey. “We see our plant here in Gelsenkirchen as a foundation for a promising future. Pulses offer a lot of potential for further growth, for example as alternatives to dairy products. It is good for us to know that with Bühler and Hosokawa, we can count on a well-coordinated team with which we can successfully continue on our chosen path.


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