A University of Sydney project to transition Australian pulses into protein-based food industries has received a $990,000 grant from the federal government’s Global Innovative Linkages Program.
Transitioning Australian Pulses into Protein-based Food Industries will use the grant and private investment to look at ways to convert Australian-grown pulses into the plant protein ingredients and foods over the next three years.
The research team comes from the university’s science and engineering faculties. Lead researcher Professor Brent Kaiser said by the end of the three-year project, Australia’s plant protein food and ingredient sector should be well enough established for there to be greater local investment in protein fractionation plants, which are needed to produce the proteins from pulses.
“Australia produces about four percent of the world’s pulses, putting it in plum position to be a key player in the growing plant protein market. Working with domestic and international partners with expertise in pulse seed processing and food manufacturing, we will fill a critical gap in the local plant protein food supply chain,” Kaiser said.
Kaiser will be working with Professor Fariba Dehghani, Professor Roman Buckow and Professor Timothy Langrish, from the Faculty of Engineering on the refining processes that will efficiently extract protein concentrates and isolates from Australia’s commonly grown pulse varieties.
The annual value of the alternative meats, dairy, beverage and egg food sectors is set to rise globally from US$18.5 billion in 2019 to US$40.6 billion by 2025. Australia’s plant protein market is forecast to be worth US$3 billion (AU$4.03 billion) a year by 2030.
Currently, most plant proteins are derived from soybean and yellow pea, which have limited scope in Australian agriculture.
“Australia produces about three million tonnes of chickpeas, faba (or fava) beans, mung beans, lupin, field peas and lentils a year,” said Kaiser.
“These crops are high in dietary protein and sustainable. What’s lacking is the refining technology required to turn Australian pulses into protein ingredients with the correct flavour and functionality needed for food manufacturing.”
Australian Plant Proteins opened the country’s first fractionation plant in 2020 in Horsham, Victoria.