File size must be less than 2Mb
You must have online publishing permission or full ownership of this image
File types (jpg, png, gif)
22 January 2020
By DEAN LAWSON
Plans to establish Horsham as the launch pad for an Australian protein-powder industry are in full swing as developers turn their attention to securing an inaugural plant-production workforce.
Australian Plant Proteins’ spokesman Phil McFarlane said the company had shored up a quality-
assurance team, appointed a general manager and would soon start recruiting on-ground staff.
He said the company’s Carine Street site in Horsham’s Enterprise Estate had become busy as contractors worked to transform a warehouse and depot into a processing factory.
Article continues below
“There is plenty of work going on involving roofing, footings and fitting out. Everything is on schedule. We will we be looking for production staff in the next six to eight weeks,” he said.
“The idea is to hire local people as machine operators, forklift drivers, shift workers – people to operate equipment and handle raw material and a finished product.”
The $20-million two-stage project, the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere and scheduled to be operating from June, involves manufacturing high-grade protein powder from pulses grown in the region. It will involve a workforce of about 20 when in full production. Plans to expand the venture into a $100-million project during the next three years, which involves establishing a two-stage greenfield site, also in Horsham, are progressing.
Mr McFarlane, preparing to travel to Sydney where he had been invited to outline project details to Grains Research Development Corporation leaders, said the Horsham venture represented the starting point of a long-term plan to establish a network of processing options across Australia.
He said minimising product-supply risks inherent with crops vulnerable to variable seasons was important and that meant having a national plan.
“We’re not averse to trucking in and-or out the raw product we require and that means spreading the risk across Australia,” he said.
“Conversations with stakeholders in other states have started and the Wimmera is the beachhead of this venture. Interest from other states as well as Victoria has been quite prominent and we’ve been in conversation with the South Australian Government, Western Australia and Queensland.”
The project was also the subject of a CSIRO film shoot at Rupanyup and Horsham before Christmas.
Expansion and growth of the project, a concept initially launched through a Wimmera Development Association business case, is in response to a worldwide demand for high-quality plant-based protein food.
Pulses grown by Wimmera-Mallee farmers, regardless of grading issues caused by drought or frost, will provide raw product for the patent-protected powder-manufacturing process.
Faba beans will be the primary source for the protein powder but the company has been busy exploring a variety of alternative crops such as red and yellow lentils and ‘spent’ grains.
As well as staff recruitment early this year, the company will also start buying pulses required for a June start. The plant will initially need 12,500 tonnes of raw product to produce 2500 tonnes of finished protein product.
As part of a broad value-adding and sustainability process there is no waste, with another 10,000 tonnes of raw fibre and starch also set for the market.
The company already has customers from America, Canada and Europe seeking repeat orders of samples and considerable interest from Australian companies.
Mr McFarlane said people keen to join the Australian Plant Proteins team should keep an eye out for recruiting advertisements.
The entire January 22, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!