Wide Open Agriculture will fund new manufacturing plants with capital raising proceeds

Wide Open Agriculture new manufacturing plants capital raising proceeds ASX WOA lupin oat milk
Wide Open Agriculture will use the $8.5 million raised to fund its planned pilot lupin protein plant and commercial oat milk production facilities.

Regenerative food and farming business Wide Open Agriculture (ASX: WOA) has raised $1.5 million through a share purchase plan launched last month to fund the development of two WA-based manufacturing plants.

The company has issued 1.66 million shares to applicants at $0.90 per share to raise the capital.

The “heavily oversubscribed” plan closed with total application funds exceeding $4 million and Wide Open has begun the process of refunding scaled-back, late and invalid applications.

October placement

Managing director Dr Ben Cole said the share purchase plan followed a “strongly-supported” October placement, in which the company raised $7 million from European and Australian institutional investors.

“That raising provided strong validation that investors appreciate [our] growth strategy to increase revenue and launch additional products for a fast-growing, conscious customer base,” he said.

He said the company is now well-funded to move forward with its business objectives.

“Our current cash at bank is approximately $14.2 million which sees [us] well-funded to carry out our current activities and stated objectives,” he said.

“Other than the exercising of options, the board does not expect any foreseeable need to issue further shares in the future.”

Manufacturing plants

Funds to the tune of $8.5 million from both capital raisings will be put towards the design, build and operation of a pilot-scale lupin protein manufacturing plant and commercial-scale oat milk facility in WA.

In July, Wide Open secured a $20,000 grant to investigate the oat milk project as part of the WA Government’s Value Add Agribusiness Investment Attraction Fund supporting globally-competitive agriculture and food technologies from the state, including solutions which can reduce input costs and improve environmental impact.

The funding – which the company said it would match dollar-for-dollar – will be used to conduct a preliminary feasibility assessment on the commercial viability of a facility to produce plant-based milk using regenerative oats from WA farmers.

Alternative markets

Oat milk is a vegan alternative to diary milk made by blending water and oats, and is a sustainable alternative to popular plant-based products such as almond, rice, coconut and soy milk.

The global market for oat milk is growing rapidly, with the industry projected to be worth $2.2 billion by 2024.

Wide Open has previously carried out initial market testing on its own WA-grown oat milk product OatUP and is rolling-out the product throughout WA with plans to expand nationally and into Asia in 2021.

The alternative plant-based “meat” industry is also experiencing strong growth, with estimates that it will be worth around $192 billion by 2030.

Market research suggests the coronavirus pandemic has fuelled a boom in the plant-based food industry, with growth in US sales of plant-based meat up 265% for the two months to end April.

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