VICTORIAN-based oat and pulse processor Unigrain has today announced plans to build its first pulse fractionation facility at its Smeaton site north of Ballarat.
The plant will initially aim to use a total of more than 40,000 tonnes of field peas and faba beans per annum, and has scope for expansion as the market continues to grow.
It will have the capability to produce a range of plant-based food ingredients, with the initial key focus being on protein concentrates.
The plant will be the first fully integrated pulse-milling and fractionation process in Australia, and the first to utilise dry protein-extraction technology which is being designed and engineered in Germany.
“Manufactured from locally grown pulses without the aid of water or chemical treatment, we are particularly proud of the high benchmark we are looking to set for the environmental sustainability of our products,” Unigrain co-CEO Fiona May said.
“As part of our initial product expansion, work is also under way with the intention of developing a broader range of fractionated cereal and pulse products into the future, including across lentils, chickpeas and oats.”
Pea and faba bean proteins are already used in Australian to manufacture a range of foods including baked goods, snack foods, breakfast cereals, and plant-based meats.
“Consumers are increasingly turning to pulse based proteins are part of a broader emphasis on health, lifestyle and the environment,” Unigrain co-CEO Andrew May said.
“We are thrilled to be a part of Australia’s journey in the alternative-protein sector, and help facilitate the development of the Australian supply chain”.
Construction of the facility is set to commence early next year, with full-scale production planned to get under way by mid-2022.
“There are still a lot of ingredients being imported from Europe and America because Australia doesn’t have a deep or well-developed supply chain for ingredients.
“As we grow, our requirement for pulses will certainly be growing.”
Unigrain already uses 20,000-30,000t of faba beans and field peas sourced from the Victorian Mallee and Wimmera and from South Australia.
These are used for splitting and whole pulses, and the Smeaton site also mills oats, with screenings and pollard going into its stockfeed pellets.
At its second processing site at Wagin in the Western Australian grainbelt, oats are also milled, and a limited tonnage of lupins goes into its feedmill.
Unigrain was formed in the 1970s through the merging of Bill May’s WD Seeds, and Costa Group’s Southern Cross Grains.
Unigrain is still jointly owned by the May family, including Bill’s children Andrew and Fiona, and the Costa family.