Carbon neutral focused Wide Open Agriculture (ASX: WOA) has unveiled the official opening of its plant-based protein pilot production plant in Western Australia, which will produce the company’s eco-friendly Buntine Protein.
Using its proprietary process, Wide Open’s Buntine Protein is made from Western Australian regeneratively-farmed sweet lupins.
Owner of Nudie, Black Swan and Peckish food and beverage brands Monde Nissin Australia has already agreed to purchase up to 60% of the Buntine Protein produced at the pilot plant over two years, with a first shipment due later this month.
Under the agreement, Monde will use Buntine Protein as the main ingredient in a variety of food and beverages it is developing.
Wide Open’s Dirty Clean Food brand will also incorporate Buntine Protein into a new line of protein oat milk and snacks later this year.
Between 60% and 80% of all sweet lupins produced globally are grown in WA.
Prior to Wide Open’s technology for processing the crop into an edible plant-based protein, the sweet lupins have primarily been used as animal stock.
They are also a regenerative crop that puts nitrogen back into the soil.
Wide Open managing director Dr Ben Cole said the company’s proprietary technology had unlocked a vast new market for sweet lupins beyond traditional applications.
Buntine Protein technology
The company developed Buntine Protein in collaboration with Curtin University.
Dr Cole noted the products has a low carbon footprint, with sweet lupin deemed integral to regenerative farming systems in the state.
He said the product’s unique eco-credentials and techno functions will give it’s a “competitive edge” globally.
“Previous barriers for lupin to be used in the food sector relate to its taste, texture and its capacity for gelling and thickening,” Dr Cole explained.
“Our technology overcomes these challenges.”
“Our novel technology unfolds the constituent protein in lupin to increase its ability to blend and mix with other food ingredients.”
Dr Cole said this capability makes Buntine Protein suitable for incorporation in a “wide range” of food and beverages.
Official opening of pilot plant
Presiding over the pilot plant’s official opening will be WA’s Minster for Regional Development, Agriculture and Food, and Hydrogen Alannah MacTiernan.
Ms MacTiernan will also inspect the facility’s unique technology that has led to the development of Buntine Protein.
“Lupins have been really important to agronomy in WA for decades,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“We want to rebuild the role they play in WA’s grain belt – driving better soil health, reducing reliance on expensive synthetic fertilisers and helping us to diversify our grain products and markets,” she added.
Wide Open’s strategy is to secure a major slice of the global plant-based market, which could account for 7.7% of the world’s protein market by 2030.
Bloomberg Intelligence estimates this market will be worth more than US$162 billion by 2030, compared to US$29.4 billion in 2020.
Wide Open founding chairman Anthony Maslin noted that if the entire WA lupin crop was converted to Buntine Protein, it would be worth more than $1 billion in annual sales.
“This would represent only a small fraction of the global plant-based market, but one of WA’s largest export products.”
“And unlike some of the state’s biggest resource-based exports, lupin is an annual crop and wont run out,” Mr Maslin added.