Final door open for protein powder
The Wimmera has the final green light to become the launching pad for a new multimillion-dollar plant-protein industry.
Australian Plant Proteins will start a $20-million fit-out of its plant in Horsham’s Enterprise Estate this month after securing investment from Melbourne Australasian food-manufacturing firm Scalzo Foods.
It expects to start commercial production of high-protein powder, extracted from broadacre pulse crops, in the first quarter of 2020.
The plant will be Australia’s first major commercial plant-protein extraction facility.
Australian Plant Proteins, APP, has developed a proprietary extraction process to create the high-value protein powders.
The powder has broad international application across a vast range of food
and beverage product categories. The company, created by investment firm EAT Group in 2016, already operates a production and research and development facility in Werribee.
It has a close association with and understanding of the region through Brim-raised EAT Group director Phil Mcfarlane.
APP director and co-founder Brendan Mckeegan said investment from Scalzo Foods provided capital and distribution capabilities to meet the company’s target of full commercial production in early 2020.
“We welcome the investment from Scalzo Foods, a highly respected, family-owned and run food-manufacturing business with operations in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.
“APP process yields an extract containing more than 85 percent protein. This is far higher than many other alternative protein sources.
“Combined with favourable sensory and taste elements, this has enabled APP to generate significant local and international demand for the product as a key ingredient for a range of foods and beverages including meat alternatives, protein bars and shakes, snack foods and non-dairy beverages.
“Since we created this business, the global demand for high-quality, alternative sources of protein has exploded off the back of people’s desire for greater sustainability in the development of the food and beverage products they consume.”
APP will base its initial commercial manufacturing focus on faba beans, which graingrowers across the region commonly use as rotational crops to replenish nitrogen in soil.
“This is a great story at both ends of the food supply chain,” Mr Mckeegan said.
“For farmers, we create an alternative to the global pulse and legume commodity markets, while for consumers we generate a value-added food ingredient which is 100 percent grown and manufactured in Australia.”
Scalzo Foods managing director Michael Scalzo said plant proteins were a vital mix in Australian agricultural food production.
He added that APP provided an ideal investment in value-added manufacturing of a commodity grown in abundance in Australia.
“Plant proteins are becoming increasingly important in global food-supply chains, not just to cater for increased popularity of vegan and vegetarian preferences, but as a sustainable option to feed the world’s growing population,” he said.
“It also provides a viable and immediately available secondary income stream to farmers who use pulses and legumes as a vital part of rotational cropping.
“Most importantly, it is vital for Australian businesses to develop these value-add industries to establish our reputation as an innovative and significant provider of food and high-quality ingredients to global markets.”
Wimmera Development Association has played a key role in promoting the concept of pulse-protein-powder extraction and development in the region.
It created a business case for the proposal with Wimmera Grains Cluster after 2011 observations of high-protein concentrations in by-products produced in the cleaning and processing of pulses.
Research established the scale of raw produce available at market base and global trend data confirmed the opportunity.
The business case at the time was based on capturing about 20 percent of an $80-million to $90-million imported protein market and then considering other opportunities.