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    Mark Purdy and Peter LeLievre at the Australian Plant Proteins factory in Horsham.

Protein powder boom for Horsham

A $45.7-million investment from international agri-food giant Bunge has fast-tracked plans to double the production of plant-protein powder in Horsham.

Australian Plant Proteins, APP, which launched its first commercial processing plant in Horsham last year, secured the investment as a result of booming international plant-protein demand.

The agreement will allow APP to double the output of its protein isolates production by March 2022, as well as give Bunge a minority stake in the company and make it the exclusive distributor in the Americas.

APP co-founder and director Brendan McKeegan said the investment meant the next stage of development at the site in Horsham Enterprise Estate would start next month and be finished by March next year.

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“Initial plans were to increase manufacturing capacity after 12 months but we’re now looking to fast-track that,” he said.

“Securing investment and distribution agreements with a major multi-national such as Bunge, alongside our existing partnership with Scalzo Foods in Australia and New Zealand, is testament to the value and ongoing growth in demand for quality, plant-based protein options.”

Melbourne-based agricultural investment management company EAT Group, of which Brim-raised Phil McFarlane is a director, founded Australian Plant Proteins in 2016.

The company developed the concept in the wake of Wimmera Development Association identifying an opportunity to exploit protein levels in Wimmera pulse crops, regardless of harvest grading, about a decade ago and establishing a business case.

Australian Plant Proteins, which had worked to develop cutting-edge ‘fractionation’ technology to process pulses, gained significant momentum in 2019 when Australian food-ingredient distributor Scalzo Foods announced it had invested in the company.

The launch of APP’s first commercial-scale plant-protein facility in Horsham, concentrating on faba beans grown in the Wimmera-Mallee, has since created a value-added step in Australia’s legume and pulse supply chain. The company has also used its unique fractionation process to develop protein isolates from yellow peas, mung beans, chickpeas, red lentils and yellow lentils, all of which are ready for commercial launch.

“As soon as APP commenced commercial production in November 2020, we experienced soaring demand for our premium faba bean protein isolate in Australia and internationally, with customers impressed with the product’s high functionality and clean taste,” Mr McKeegan said.

“Australian Plant Proteins has achieved an Australian agribusiness first by linking growers of abundant, quality raw materials to the booming plant-protein food and beverage market,” Mr McKeegan said.

“The investment and interest also creates strong precedent for further development of similar value-add industries in the Australian agricultural sector.”

As part of the investment agreement Bunge will have the option to licence APP proprietary processing technology outside Australia.

The agreement means the companies will join forces to meet increased demand for ‘highly functional, non-genetically modified’ plant proteins from manufacturers of plant-based meat, dairy, other food and beverage, and nutritional supplements.

Bunge entered the plant-protein supply chain with a portfolio of high-purity pea and canola proteins in 2020 and will expand with APP’s portfolio of protein isolates sourced exclusively from Australian-grown pulses.

American-based Bunge Protein Business vice-president Kaleb Belzer said the partnership had significant benefits.

“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,” he said.

Mr McKeegan said APP’s protein isolates were designed to help brands of all sizes grow with a plant-based trend.

“We’re enabling food and beverage manufacturers to tap into the demand for new protein types, make protein claims, deliver exceptional texture and mouthfeel, and align with consumers seeking non-GMO and clean label offerings,” he said.


The entire April 14, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!