• Australian Plant Proteins was founded in 2016 by Melbourne-based agricultural investment management company EAT Group. Its plant protein fraction plant is in Horsham, Victoria. (Source: Australian Plant Proteins)
    Australian Plant Proteins was founded in 2016 by Melbourne-based agricultural investment management company EAT Group. Its plant protein fraction plant is in Horsham, Victoria. (Source: Australian Plant Proteins)
  • Australian Plant Proteins' unique fractionation process is a major value-added step for Australia’s legume and pulse supply chain. (Source: Australian Plant Proteins)
    Australian Plant Proteins' unique fractionation process is a major value-added step for Australia’s legume and pulse supply chain. (Source: Australian Plant Proteins)
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Australia’s only commercial plant protein fraction plant, Australian Plant Proteins (APP), has secured $45.7 million from global agrifood company Bunge. The investment will allow the company to double its output of plant protein isolates by March 2022.

APP launched its first processing plant in Horsham last year in a major value-added step for Australia’s legume and pulse supply chain. The company has also used its unique fractionation process to develop protein isolates from yellow peas, mung beans, chickpeas, red lentils and yellow lentils, all of which are ready for commercial launch.

The agreement gives Bunge a minority stake in the company, and exclusive distribution rights in the Americas. It also includes the option to licence APP proprietary processing technology outside Australia. The company has an existing domestic partnership with Scalzo Foods in Australia and New Zealand.

Co-founder of Australian Plant Proteins Brendan McKeegan.
Co-founder of Australian Plant Proteins Brendan McKeegan.

APP co-founder and director Brendan McKeegan said securing the investment and distribution with a multinational such as Bunge is testament to the value and growing demand for quality, plant-based protein options.

“The investment and interest also creates strong precedent for further development of similar value-add industries in the Australian agricultural sector,” McKeegan said.

Bunge and APP will partner to meet the increased demand for highly functional, non-genetically modified plant proteins from manufacturers of plant-based meat, dairy, other food and beverage, and nutritional supplements. 

Alternative protein think tank Food Frontier's State of the Industry report said significant investment in local plant protein processing infrastructure was needed to meet growing demand.

Food Frontier CEO Thomas King told Food & Drink Business: “There remains significant scope for greater investment in fractionation infrastructure considering the plant-based meat industry, as per Deloitte’s moderate growth scenario, is projected to produce 169,000 tonnes of end product by 2030.

The report said the demand for plant protein ingredients is expanding into different market segments as well, with demand for baked goods, snacks and sports nutrition products also growing. This demonstrates significant need for local plant protein processing.

 McKeegan said: “As soon as APP commenced commercial production in November 2020, we experienced soaring demand for our faba bean protein isolate in Australia and internationally, with customers impressed with the product’s high functionality and clean taste.” 

That high functionality of the faba bean protein isolate stems from APP’s proprietary fractionation process that retains protein quality during production. 

He said that manufacturers are increasingly seeking plant proteins beyond traditional sources such as soy and wheat. “Bunge entered the plant-protein segment with a portfolio of high-purity pea and canola proteins in 2020 and is now expanding with APP’s portfolio of protein isolates sourced exclusively from premium quality, Australian-grown pulses. 

Bunge’s VP Kaleb Belzer said the partnership would build a competitive advantage.  “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,” Belzer said.  

McKeegan said: “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 was founded in 2016 by Melbourne-based agricultural investment management company EAT Group. In 2019, food ingredient distributor Scalzo Foods announced it had invested in the company. 

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