GLOBAL grain trader and agrifood company Bunge has bought a stake in Australian Plant Proteins (APP), which is already making isolates from pulses at Horsham in the Victorian Wimmera.
Bunge has paid AU$45.7 million for its minority stake, which mirrors its purchase last year of a CAD$30M stake in Merit Functional Foods in Manitoba, Canada.
“Bunge will also play a key role in our global sales and distribution as our exclusive distributor in the Americas and provide valuable downstream application resources through their Creative Solutions Centre,” APP said in a statement.
Bunge’s investment in APP also includes the option for it to license APP proprietary processing technology outside Australia.
APP started commercial fractionation of pulses in November last year at its plant in Horsham, and Bunge’s investment will allow APP to double the output of its plant-protein isolates by March 2022.
In a joint statement, both companies said they will partner to meet the increased demand for non-genetically modified plant proteins from manufacturers of food, beverages and nutritional supplements.
“Securing investment and distribution agreements with a major multinational 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,” APP co-founder and director Brendan McKeegan said.
“The investment and interest also creates strong precedent for further development of similar value-add industries in the Australian agricultural sector.”
APP has been using faba beans to produce protein isolates, and Mr McKeegan said they have met “soaring demand” in Australia and internationally, with customers impressed by the product’s high functionality and clean taste.
APP said the high functionality stems from its proprietary fractionation process which creates isolates used for products including yogurts, milks, meat alternatives, protein bars and shakes, sauces, condiments, baked goods and protein supplements.
In Canada, Merit makes high-purity pea and canola proteins, and the Bunge investment has enabled it to fast track the building of plant, said to be the world’s only commercial-scale facility capable of producing food-grade canola protein.
“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,” Bunge vice president protein business Kaleb Belzer said.
APP was founded in 2016 by Melbourne-based agricultural investment management company EAT Group.
In 2019, Australian food-ingredient distributor Scalzo Foods announced it had invested in the company.
Mr McKeegan said APP’s protein isolates are designed to help brands of all sizes grow with the 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.
APP has also used its fractionation process to make protein isolates from yellow peas, mungbeans, chickpeas, red lentils and yellow lentils, all of which are ready for commercial launch.
The next stage of development at the Horsham facility will commence next month.
Bunge has a long history in Australia, and in 1971 established the large-scale Rivalea piggery at Corowa which it sold in 2001.
It has also been involved in meat and smallgoods production and milling and baking in Victoria, and currently owns one grain export terminal in Australia at Bunbury south of Perth.
Bunge is one of the world’s biggest oilseed crushers, with considerable assets primarily in North and South America and Europe.
Source: APP, Bunge