Regenerative food company Wide Open Agriculture (ASX: WOA) has made further progress on advancing its proprietary lupin protein project which involves the development of plant-based food and beverage products using lupin as a key ingredient.
The company’s product development team is currently working on a prototype of a high-protein flavoured drink and an oat milk with protein levels similar to dairy milks.
The team has also dispatched samples of the new products to targeted companies across Europe, North America and Australia with a view to developing offtake partnerships for the modified lupin protein across a range of plant-based food and drink categories.
These include milk (such as oat and protein-enriched oat milk), “non-meats” (burgers, sausages, chicken and mince), snacks (noodles, yoghurt, cheese and mayonnaise) and protein powder.
Wide Open’s lupin protein concentrate uses a patented process to create a specialised plant protein suited to a range of food and beverage applications.
The almost neutral flavour offers advantages over competitor products including enhanced gelling and viscosity; high nutritional values; and an ability to add structure, moisture retention and binding properties to plant-based “meat-mimics’” such as burgers and sausages.
The company said lupin is gaining popularity as an “attractive plant protein source” from a manufacturer and consumer perspective.
Improved lupin protein technology co-inventor Dr Hayder Al-Ali has been appointed as Wide Open’s inhouse senior food scientist.
Dr Al-Ali has tertiary qualifications in lupin protein chemistry and a proven capacity to develop technologies which unlock new and important techno-functions of Australian sweet lupin, which comprises over 95% of all lupin grain production in Western Australia.
Dr Al-Ali will be supported by an experienced team including a project manager and project engineer.
Pilot manufacturing facility
Wide Open has selected its distribution centre in the Kewdale industrial area, south of Perth, as the location for a proposed pilot manufacturing facility.
The site has ready access to the company’s technical and product development team members as well as a commercial kitchen run by the Dirty Clean Food brand.
The first tranche of pilot equipment has already been delivered, giving Wide Open an opportunity to test its gelation technology and develop new “know-how” for potential patent applications.
The manufacturing facility will eventually allow it to develop plant-based proteins for a range of food and beverage products for marketing by Dirty Clean Food and future offtake and strategic partners.
It will also enhance opportunities for strategic partnerships and produce food-grade quantities of modified lupin protein to generate initial revenues.
In August, Wide Open became one of six local businesses invited to participate in X-Protein Lab – an initiative of the Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct (WAFIP) which aims to expand the state’s market reach in the burgeoning alternative protein space, with a particular focus on Singapore.
The mentorship program will allow Wide Open to further its knowledge in the areas of technology readiness, product-market fit, market acceptance, investment potential and global relevance.
It will also have opportunities to liaise with Singapore-based start-ups and forge connections with key members of the regional and global alternative protein sector.