CONSTRUCTION of Australia’s first major commercial plant protein-extraction facility will commence this month after investment was finalised last week.
Australian Plant Proteins (APP) is now set to begin the $20-million fit-out of its plant at Horsham in Victoria’s Wimmera region, with commercial production due to commence in the first quarter of 2020, following investment from Melbourne-based Scalzo Foods.
APP was formed by investment firm EAT Group in 2016, and has developed a proprietary extraction process for pulses to create high-protein powders which can be used across a broad range of food and beverage categories.
The company already operates a small production and R&D facility in Werribee in Melbourne’s west.
Company director and co-founder Brendan McKeegan said the investment from Scalzo Foods provided both the capital and distribution capabilities to meet APP’s target of full commercial production in early 2020.
“We welcome the investment from Scalzo Foods, which is a highly respected, family-owned and run food manufacturing business with operations in Australia and New Zealand,” Mr McKeegan said.
“APP’s process yields an extract containing more than 85 per cent protein. This is far higher than many other alternative protein sources.”
Mr McKeegan said this, combined with sensory and taste elements, had 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, and snack foods.
“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’s initial focus for commercial manufacturing will be on faba beans.
“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 per cent grown and manufactured in Australia.”
Scalzo Foods managing director Michael Scalzo said APP provided an ideal investment in value-adding to 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,” Mr Scalzo 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.”
According to an article in today’s Australian Financial Review, the plant will reach its full production capacity of 5000 tonnes of plant protein extract per annum after initially operating at half capacity for 18 months.
With 4.5 kilograms of pulses needed to produce 1kg of plant-protein powder, the plant is expected to use around 20,000t of faba beans annually.