Regenerative food and farming company Wide Open Agriculture (ASX: WOA) has contracted the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to provide research services to scale up a proprietary plant-based lupin protein technology being developed at Curtin University in Western Australia.
The $115,000 project has also received matched dollar-for-dollar grant funding from the Industry Growth Centre – Food Innovation Australia, which is an industry-led, not-for-profit organisation focused on growing the share of Australian food in the global marketplace.
Viable protein source
Under the partnership, Wide Open and Curtin researchers will work closely with CSIRO’s Food Innovation Centre and utilise its pilot-plant food processing facilities to assist and accelerate the scale-up process of extracting protein from lupin.
Lupin seeds contain high levels of protein, are non-genetically modified and have a low glycaemic index (low GI). These attributes lead Wide Open to identify lupins as a potential alternative ingredient for today’s US$18.5 billion (A$26.66 billion) plant-based protein market.
Soy and pea are among the most popular plant-based protein alternatives, with soy protein having a current market value of $3.9 billion per annum.
CSIRO will provide up to 15kg of food-grade protein isolate for initial testing. Wide Open and Curtin will then evaluate the functionality and quality attributes of the lupin protein and begin a development program to investigate alternative meat, milk, egg and gluten-free products.
Wide Open managing director Dr Ben Cole said the company will conduct in-house product development and explore commercial partnerships with global food companies.
“Securing CSIRO for this project gives us access to advanced facilities and extensive expertise and will allow us to accelerate and improve the production process to maintain a first-mover advantage in lupin-based protein products,” he said.
“The outcomes of this project will assist us to establish a viable commercial product which can compete with today’s leading plant-based proteins,” Dr Cole added.
He said CSIRO will also undertake a techno-economic assessment for future commercial production viability and provide guidance on scaling up the production of lupin protein isolate.