Regenerative food and farming business Wide Open Agriculture (ASX: WOA) has announced its successful production of food-grade lupin protein isolate using industrial-grade food processing equipment.
The achievement paves the way for lupin to be used as a novel plant-based protein in new applications across a wide range of food sectors including alternative meats, plant-based beverages and gluten-free alternatives of bread, pasta and noodles. According to the company, the plant-based protein market is estimated to be worth US$17.5 billion (A$23.6 billion).
“This marks an important milestone in the scale-up process, as it increases the potential commercial viability of the process and demonstrates the capability of producing commercial quantities of lupin protein that can be sent to ingredient and food companies in Australia and globally,” Wide Open Agriculture managing director Dr Ben Cole said in today’s announcement.
Preliminary taste testing has also found the samples to have a neutral taste, a desirable and key requirement for food companies.
“This is the biggest achievement in our lupin project to date. We source our lupins from Western Australia’s leading regenerative farmers, meaning our lupin protein has exceptional environmental credentials.
“With plant-based products continuing to grow rapidly, we believe our lupin protein’s eco-credentials will be a key decision-making attribute for consumers,” he added.
Dr Cole also thanked the company’s “dedicated and exceptional research partners”, which have been revealed to Small Caps as the CSIRO.
“Running the food-grade, pilot-scale trials on schedule, despite the tight restrictions across Melbourne due to the COVID-19 outbreak is testament to the calibre of our partners,” he said.
Exclusive commercial licence
Following this milestone, the company has chosen to exercise its option under a deal signed in May to acquire the exclusive commercial licence for the proprietary modified lupin protein technology developed and patented by WA-based Curtin University.
The agreement provides Wide Open Agriculture with an exclusive global licence that covers the patented method for creating a novel plant-based protein from Australian sweet lupin and its use as a plant-based protein food ingredient – allowing the company to develop and launch products to compete in multiple food categories.
The company said this marks the final step in securing the key intellectual property and know-how required for commercialisation.
Under the licence deal, Wide Open Agriculture will pay Curtin University a minimum annual royalty commencing after three years, starting at $25,000 and increasing in the years thereafter. Royalty payments will potentially increase if and when products are successfully commercialised.
Wide Open Agriculture and the CSIRO will continue to test and refine the production process in preparation to undertake a techno-economic assessment.
This assessment will provide a detailed process flow of the novel production system and provide guidance on the commercial production of lupin protein isolate.
It will also support the commercial feasibility study being led by Australia’s largest food engineering consultancy, Process Partners, anticipated for completion in early 2021.
Additional functional analysis will also be carried out by IMPROVE, a renowned European group dedicated to the research, development and commercialisation of plant-based proteins.
This analysis will include composition, solubility, water holding, fat holding and gelling properties. This testing is also anticipated to be completed early next year.