Plant protein transforming Australia’s food industry

01 Mar 2022

In an Australian-first, a food manufacturing Consortium will transform Australia’s plant protein value chain following a $113 million funding announcement by the Federal Government as part of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI).

Thomas Foods International, AGT Foods Australia and Australian Plant Proteins’ $378 million project will establish some of the world’s largest pulse protein extraction facilities and plant-based food manufacturing capability in South Australia. It will enable Australian food manufacturers to source local ingredients and work with domestic plant protein ingredient manufacturers and researchers. 
Given the growth of the plant protein sector in Australia and globally, the project is expected to create 8,517 jobs nationally and contribute a projected $5.2 billion in Gross Domestic Product over the next 12 years.
With long-term forecast growth in protein demand globally, the new plant protein industry will be an additive to Australia’s traditional meat (red protein) and dairy (white protein) supply chain capability.
The MMI is aimed at transforming Australian manufacturing by building scale and creating income in high-value areas of manufacturing where Australia either has established competitive strength or emerging priorities. The funding by the Federal Government will be used to transform commodity pulses sourced from Australian farmers into high value products to meet the rapidly growing global demand for plant protein.
To fast-track the development of plant protein products by Australian food manufacturers and the development of the plant-based foods ecosystem, the Consortium will work with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), to establish a Research and Development Hub to foster collaboration between the Consortium, farmers, the Australian food and beverage manufacturing industry and a network of Australian researchers. 
The project will position South Australia as a leader in Australia’s pulse protein ingredient manufacturing industry, supporting the transformation of Australia’s plant-based food and beverage value chain.
South Australia has the existing pulse production capability to support the establishment of end-to-end pulse processing in an exciting new industry. 
The Consortium will leverage Australia’s internationally renowned premium food credentials to create an end-to-end pulse farming, processing, manufacturing and export value chain for innovative plant protein products. This will provide Australia with the opportunity to transition from being a commodity supplier of pulses, to a leader in the production and export of premium food and beverage – incorporating plant protein – and cementing Australia’s credentials in all three protein streams.
The successful MMI funding will enable the establishment of fit-for-purpose manufacturing facilities in South Australia, to take advantage of rising global demand for plant-based foods and exports.
The Consortium will partner with Australian companies to supply ingredients for current, and new food and beverage products, drive innovation and support the existing food and beverage manufacturing infrastructure to realise the estimated $5.2 billion plant-based food opportunity. 
The project will support the attraction of future investment from existing domestic and international food and beverage manufacturers.
Darren Thomas, Managing Director of Thomas Foods International and one of the Consortium partners, says the future of plant protein will be fast-tracked by the funding, delivering a best-in-class plant protein value chain in Australia.
“Delivering a best-in-class plant protein value chain in Australia is now one step closer.” Mr Thomas said. “Plant protein can benefit a range of products, presenting new product development opportunities for the Australian industry using Australian-sourced ingredients.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity to establish a world-class hub for plant protein manufacturing in South Australia, capable of supply both local and international markets,” said Brendan McKeegan, co-founder and Director of Australian Plant Proteins.
“The facilities our Consortium plans to build will provide an important value-add route to market for our pulse crops and position Australia as a key player on the world stage as a premium supplier of plant-based products and ingredients."

Mr Murad Al-Katib, President and CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients, is delighted by today’s announcement.

“Today’s news will see South Australia at the forefront of the plant protein industry,” Mr Al-Katib said. “The world is seeing a major increase in plant-based food products as part of a global consumer megatrend, with an increased focus on food safety, provenance and sustainability.”

For further information visit the Modern Manufacturing Initiative.