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27 May 2020
By DEAN LAWSON
Production of revolutionary high-grade plant-based protein powder in Horsham is on schedule to start in July.
A Carine Street hub in Horsham South is a hive of construction and installation activity as teams ready the site for the commissioning of the $20-million manufacturing enterprise.
When fully operational, an Australian Plant Proteins factory will operate 24 hours a day, processing tonnes of raw material to meet pressing national and international demand.
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Expectations are that the project will quickly expand from a $20-million to $40-million endeavour.
As well as piecing together major plant and connections in Horsham Enterprise Estate, the company has started advertising for initial on-floor staff members to get production underway. These will include a range of shift team leaders and production assistants who will have the job of learning all the facets involved in processing Wimmera-grown faba beans into plant-protein powder.
The company has already hired experienced food-product specialists Rod and Christa Lingham from Rupanyup’s Lingham Foods as quality-assurance managers. The Linghams have been an integral part of research and development into the protein-powder project.
Australian Plant Proteins operations general manager Peter LeLievre said initial shipments of Wimmera protein powder were already earmarked for market, primarily in Australia.
He said a first-stage market for the powder was other Australian food manufacturers keen to add value to their products with high-quality Australian-sourced material.
“There is very strong demand. We have a first order in for locally grown faba beans that will come to us dehulled and split ready for processing,” he said.
“The initial market for the first six months of production is basically about import replacement.
“We will then look to meeting a growing international demand, principally from the United States and the United Kingdom.
“We have patented new technology which provides the venture with significant competitive advantage.”
Mr LeLievre said expectations were the impact from COVID-19 restrictions on production and export would be minimal.
“It’s been coming along well. Building site manager Mark Purdy has done a great job implementing all the recommended COVID-19 building-site requirements and ensuring a very safe environment – so it’s full steam ahead. We’re not expecting any disruption to the commissioning stage,” he said.
Mr LeLievre added the company had planned significant and continual expansion.
“When fully operational, the company expects to have a staff of about 25, but we have considerable growth plans,” he said.
“In the next 12 months, with an expected expansion of a second line of production at the Carine Street site, it will mean a doubling of overall production and a need for more staff,” Mr LeLievre said.
He said apart from protein powder, there were also markets for fibre and starch by-products, which rated as highly prized sources of stock-feed carbohydrate.
Australian Plant Proteins is a subsidiary of Australian agricultural investment firm EAT Group.
Company spokesman Phil McFarlane, who grew up on a family farm at Brim, has also confirmed that demand for high-quality plant-based protein had primed the venture for up to a $130-million expansion through a ‘super-centre’ factory on a greenfield site within the next three years.
Mr McFarlane added while it was full steam ahead for the Horsham project, Australian Plant Proteins had yet to decide where in Australia, let alone Victoria, it would base a new factory.
He said much depended on State Government interest and support.
The entire May 27, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire May 27, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!