Global grain trader and agrifood company Bunge has invested A$45.7 million in Australian Plant Proteins (APP).
A premium plant-based powder processing, packaging and distribution business with facilities in regional Victoria, APP produces and supplies protein isolate powders sourced from Australian pulses.
The investment will enable APP to further expand its plant protein isolate fractionation facility. Their goal is to double the output of plant protein isolates by March 2022.
Additionally, Bunge will be APP’s exclusive distributor in the U.S. and provide valuable downstream application resources through its Creative Solutions Centre. The deal also specifies an option for Bunge to license APP’s proprietary processing technology outside Australia.
“By combining APP’s proprietary extraction technology with our application expertise and global sales and distribution networks, we provide a significant competitive advantage in making quality plant protein accessible to customers around the world,” vice president of Bunge’s protein business Kaleb Belzer said.
“This partnership is a significant validation of our proprietary processing technology and scalability and marks a major milestone in our goal to ensure Australia plays a key role in the supply of quality plant protein isolates to global food, beverage and nutritional supplement manufacturers,” co-founder and director of APP Brendan McKeegan said.
Australian processing ingenuity
Using faba beans in their protein isolates, APP developed a proprietary fractionation process – also used with yellow peas, mung beans, chickpeas, red and yellow lentils – and worked with CSIRO to achieve a faba bean powder protein content greater than 80 per cent, double the protein in traditional plant-based powders.
Since starting commercial production, McKeegan said APP has experienced “soaring demand” for the protein isolate’s high functionality and clean taste. They can be used in yoghurt, milk, meat alternatives, protein bars and shakes, supplements, sauces, condiments and baked goods.
Overall, Australia’s alternative protein sector generated $185 million in retail sales and $50 million in manufacturing in 2019–20, with the potential to grow by 2030 to $4.6 billion in retail sales and $2.9 billion in manufacturing.
Pulse Protein CRC
The growing demand for meat alternatives has put a new Pulse Protein Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) into action in Australia. The CRC will drive a national campaign of plant protein research and processing innovation backed by universities, manufacturers, farmers and government.
The intent is for the CRC to fund its processing and research company Advanced Protein Australia, which will build a pilot fractionation plant in partnership with a commercial investor. The $170 million bid is focused on developing fresh crop varieties and protein processing opportunities to triple Australia’s pulse crop demand in 10 years to 30 per cent of the nation’s crop rotation mix.
Seaweed aquaculture research
CH4, a U.S.-based red seaweed aquaculture business, aims to commercialise CSIRO patented technology which uses a seaweed bioactive compound ‘bromoform’ as a feed supplement. Trials in Australia and the U.S. have shown that it can reduce methane emissions in cattle.
Support from the South Australian government has established operations via the South Australian Landing Pad. It is an opportunity to secure future product and invest in the business. Capital has been raised for initial trials and a further US$10 million round has opened for expansion to the first 20-hectare pod.