CONSUMERS will soon be able to enjoy plant-based meat products made from locally sourced and processed grains via Australia’s first plant-based meat ingredient manufacturer, Harvest B.
Its plant-based meat ingredients will offer a wholesale solution to consumer-facing food brands, manufacturers, and food-service companies seeking a palatable and clean-label certified product that costs less than comparable animal protein.
The locally developed produce will assist efforts to decarbonise supply chains by offering a product that does not require a cold-chain solution and boasts a shelf life far superior to that of imported plant-based and locally sourced animal-based proteins.
This manufacturing capability will enable substantive value to be added to high-quality local grains and other ingredients, while generating high-skilled local jobs.
Furthermore, Harvest B has the potential to displace currently imported plant-based protein products while growing exports.
Growing need for protein alternatives
Harvest B co-founders, Kristi Riordan and Alfred Lo, set out to address the growing global need to supplement existing energy, emissions, and land-intensive animal protein-based food systems with a novel plant-based approach while adding value to high-quality, locally grown grains.
“When investigating the plant-based protein market, it became apparent that there was not a single large-scale ingredient brand supplying high-quality, locally made plant proteins to Australian food manufacturers,” Mr Lo said.
“Now food manufacturers have the option to source locally developed products leveraging local inputs rather than resorting to international suppliers.”
Harvest B CEO Kristi Riordan said the company recognised the gap in the market for more locally-made value-added ingredients.
“It made absolutely no sense that high-quality Australian-grown produce is shipped offshore to be processed only for us to buy it back at higher costs as finished consumer products,” Ms Riordan said.
“It became quickly evident to Harvest B that there was a significant opportunity for this value add to be done in Australia, creating local jobs and greater export opportunities.”
She said early feedback on the ingredient has been positive.
“To ensure we can grow our business, Harvest B invested heavily in research and development to create a novel product range that we believe exceeds the taste, texture, and price expectations of our consumers.
“In fact, industry and consumer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive to the point that we now have customers, both locally and abroad, approaching us.”
At the opening of the Harvest B facility at Penrith in western Sydney, Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic said the facility was great news for Australian food brands and manufacturers.
“The Albanese Government is committed to revitalising Australia’s advanced manufacturing by backing companies like Harvest B,” Mr Husic said.
“Supporting domestic capability in emerging technologies, including in areas like food production, will be a focus for the National Reconstruction Fund.
“Australia has a strong reputation as producer of safe, premium, high-quality foods, and Harvest B will support domestic businesses to capitalise on the growing demand for plant-based protein foods.”
Leveraging locally grown grains and inputs, Harvest B will offer an initial output of 1000 tonnes of product.
Supplied to food brands, food manufacturers and food service providers, Harvest B’s plant-based proteins will then be converted into food products such as sausages, patties, mince, and the company’s own proprietary whole-meat products.
Push for more local manufacturing
Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) managing director Jens Goennemann said Harvest B exemplified how Australian manufacturers can value add the nation’s abundant natural resources.
“Australia is a nation blessed with abundant natural resources, yet we have relied too heavily on the luck associated with trading these commodities in a raw state,” Ms Goennemann said.
“Like Harvest B, we should be leveraging our smarts and add value to these high-quality natural resources – right here in Australia.”
With co-investment support from the Federal Government via AMGC and industry partners, including Woolworths’ W23 venture fund, Harvest B intends to initially develop 10 different product lines with substantial export into South-east Asia which is already presenting opportunities.