Regenerative food company Wide Open Agriculture (WOA) has raised $20 million through institutional investors. It will use the funds to develop Western Australia’s first oat milk manufacturing plant.
Over the past year the company has experienced significant growth through international expansion, distribution deals and new facilities, along with steady progression in the plant-based sector.
In June, WOA announced its plans of developing an in-house lupin and plant-based protein manufacturing facility in Western Australia, with an initial construction cost of $1.6 million. In October, the company said it was targeting the four plant-based food and beverage sectors milk, meat, snacks and protein. WOA’s food brand Dirty Clean Food’s OatUp milk has also seen an uptake, having launched in Singapore two months ago and recently securing a distribution agreement with Woolworths which will stock its milk in roughly half of its stores from March 2022.
WOA managing director Ben Cole said the company has grown alongside global consumer demands over seven years.
“In the last 12 months, we have firmly established the company as the leader in regenerative food and farming in Australia.
“As we increase our plant-based offerings, we know this segment is well-aligned with our regenerative purposes and represents one of the fasts growing and most attractive markets in the food industry,” said Cole.
The company will issue approximately 26.7 million new fully paid ordinary shares worth $0.75 each, after its placements saw strong support from new and existing shareholders. Joint lead managers and bookrunners for the placement were Euroz Hartleys and Canaccord Genuity.
WOA also aims to raise $2 million through a share purchase plan (SPP). Existing shareholders will be able to acquire additional shares of up to a maximum of $30,000 per shareholder.
Funds raised from the placement and the SPP will be used towards four goals, as the company expands its footprint in the plant-based sector.
WOA said it would develop the world’s lowest carbon emissions per litre oat milk in a commercial scale plant-based oat milk facility that the company will design, build and operate.
The facility will be Western Australia’s first oat milk manufacturing plant and will provide contract manufacturing services to private label customers.
“This capital raise will allow us to rapidly advance our oat milk and functional protein business lines and further grow the Dirty Clean Food brand across Australia and south-east Asia,” said Cole.
Plant-based milk developed in the facility will be branded as ‘regeneratively grown and made in Australia’ and will have transparent provenance along with traceability.
WOA expects OatUp and other Dirty Clean Food products will have improved operational efficiencies and margins through constructing and operating the facility.
Advancing lupin protein
The company’s goal is to move from R&D to the commercialisation of its pilot-scale Functional Lupin Protein facility by providing food and ingredient companies with samples of its high-protein oat milk.
In October, the company announced the facility would be with its Kewdale distribution centre, having access to technical and product development team members along with Dirty Clean Food’s commercial kitchen.
WOA intends to utilise its first instalment of pilot equipment to enhance gelation and develop blueprints for potential patent applications, along with identifying applications for fibre and other lupin nutritional benefits.
Having secured distribution agreements with Singapore and Woolworths, the company will develop and incorporate a marketing strategy. This strategy will support online sales along with domestic and international retail campaigns for OatUp and new products.
Funds will also go towards Dirty Clean Food’s working capital, new products, value-chain creation and ecommerce growth.