GrainCorp has partnered with the CSIRO and the plant-based food producer, v2food, on a $4.4 million research project in the fast-growing plant-based protein market.
The partnership will work towards building Australian processing and manufacturing expertise to reduce reliance on imported ingredients and to add more value to grains and oilseeds so they can be used in new products. Australia is the world’s second largest exporter of canola seed, with GrainCorp keen to build domestic manufacturing and supply chains for plant-based protein ingredients as a major exporter.
GrainCorp received the funding from the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) Program, to separate and manufacture proteins from canola, soy and fava beans and chickpeas at commercial volumes.
GrainCorp managing director and CEO, Robert Spurway, said the partners will identify infrastructure needs for commercialisation and put Australian grains and oilseeds growers at the forefront of the world’s plant protein market.
“Global consumer trends are driving demand for plant protein and it represents an attractive opportunity for Australian agriculture,” he said. “We are well placed to participate in the plant protein boom and we are confident the sector can comfortably co-exist, and indeed flourish, alongside our essential animal protein industry.
“Our partnership aims to create a commercial plant protein supply chain that benefits Aussie growers and food and aquafeed manufacturers, as well as consumers. We’ll be able to access new export markets and meet growing domestic demand while creating jobs and informing future research and development into high-quality plant varieties.”
A key focus of the collaboration will be adding value to existing plant protein capabilities at GrainCorp’s oilseed processing site in Numurkah, Victoria.
CSIRO will bring its expertise in science, food technology, agronomy and genetics to the collaboration. Professor Michelle Colgrave, who specialises in proteins research and leads the CSIRO Future Protein Mission, said the collective research power of the three organisations will push faster outcomes for Australia.
“We grow many plant crops in Australia but typically export these as commodities. If we can add value through product development, research and processing, we can export them at a higher price,” Colgrave said.
“The project will be a game changer for Australian food manufacturers, including small-to-medium enterprises that can leverage our research to deliver new products for consumers.”
Australia boasts significant natural resources, a strong farming sector and research and development capabilities through CSIRO and industry groups.
v2food CEO, Nick Hazell, said the research supported a thriving Australian agricultural and value-added manufacturing sector.
“It is important for the sector to operate at scale, and with end-to-end domestic capability, which will create resilience and boost global competitiveness,” he said.
“We are assessing options across the plant protein spectrum, including in soy protein, to potentially replace imported soy protein concentrate with locally produced production and processing.”
The research project is expected to culminate in 2023 following a staged approach to process development, pilot scale protein fractionation, sensory evaluation and product application.