Plant-based protein pioneer Proform Foods has opened an $11 million manufacturing plant on the northern outskirts of Sydney, with plans to triple growth in the next 12 months.
The 1600 square metre facility can produce up to 5000 tonnes of plant-based meat every year. The company uses around 70 per cent of Australian ingredients but is looking to raise that to 100 per cent as the local industry matures.
Chief commercial officer Nick Ryan told Food & Drink Business its patented technology can produce around 300 kilos an hour, which was a conscious decision by the business. “Our focus is on product integrity rather than volume,” Ryan said.
Proform Foods began with founder Stephen Dunn forming a $2.3 million partnership with CSIRO in 2006, pioneering technology for plant-based protein production at scale. Proform officially launched in 2008 as the first commercial plant protein manufacturer in Australia.
Since then, the company has invested more than $8 million in R&D and $11 million building the specialised manufacturing facility in Mount Kuring-Gai.
The company is a commercial supplier to many plant-based products manufacturers in Australia, as well as having its own range of products, sold under the Meet brand. It has 28 different products including burgers, meatballs, beef style strips, chicken style tenders and mince. The range is available in independent retailers with plans to expand domestically and overseas in 2021.
With a soy base, Proform has managed to avoid the high sodium concerns of some brands. Proform Foods CEO Matt Dunn tod F&DB its Meet brand will only have products that secure a four-star health rating or higher.
Dunn said: “We are incredibly excited to officially open the next generation plant-based meat manufacturing facility. The global demand for plant-based products is booming, and our Australian innovation wins on both taste and texture. Plant-based meat is well on its way to becoming a multibillion industry.
“With plans already in the works to expand globally, we anticipate that the business will become a global leader in the US$4.3 billion plant-based meat industry, creating new jobs and export growth in Sydney and across the country.
“In Australia we have the materials, knowledge and commercial acumen to produce for domestic and export markets. We are rapidly expanding, growing from five employees at the end of last year to 25 now. And this is just the beginning.”
Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Innovation Karen Andrews and Federal Member for Berowra Julian Leeser both attended the launch and cut the ceremonial ribbon.
Andrews said: “Proform is leading the way in the work we, as a government, are trying to stimulate and facilitate.
“We want our manufacturing industry to be competitive, resilient and to build scale. We’ve heard how Proform has grown from five to 25 staff and we want that to continue to grow, that to be the way of manufacturing businesses in Australia.”