While the average Aussie is more likely to favour a lamb chop over a plant-based veggie burger, the rise of the pulse protein market is set to offer Australian agriculture a lentil opportunity.
This emerging sector is attracting a significant amount of interest from industry and government, including traditionally meat-focussed operators such as Thomas Foods International. The South Australian based meat processor has recently entered into a partnership with Australian Plant Proteins and Australian Milling Group in a $378 million project to construct three plant protein manufacturing facilities.
Backed by $113 million of federal money and $65 million from the state government, the construction of these new manufacturing plants will allow the consortium to produce products including burgers, sausages and mince from pulse protein ingredients. The project will quadruple production in South Australia, to produce 25,000 tonnes of pulse protein yearly.
“For Thomas Foods International, we see plant-based protein as a natural complement to our traditional product offering and allows us to reach new markets and customers,” said TFI’s Managing Director, Darren Thomas.
“The market for plant-based products is also expanding rapidly and we see great opportunity to leverage our experience and expertise into this exciting new opportunity for local farmers and consumers across the globe.”
The opportunities for the global alternative protein market are set to rise, with an estimated US$85 billion in sales predicted by 2030 – an increase of $80 billion from the sales in 2018. Australian consumers are set to drive a 570-fold increase in the value of meat substitutes between just 2020 and 2025 with Europe and the United States driving the lion’s share of international demand.
Minister for Finance and Senator for South Australia Simon Birmingham said that the development of the pulse protein manufacturing industry aligned with a new sustainability initiative as well as offering an economic benefit.
“This investment by the Government along with the private sector will put SA ahead of the pack in the manufacturing of products for the high-growth domestic and booming global plant-based foods market,” he said.
“It is a major step forward in transforming South Australia into a plant-based protein manufacturing and export powerhouse.
“It will not only generate thousands of local jobs but has the potential to generate billions in export dollars for our state.
“Demand for plant-based foods is booming globally. Just as SA leads Australia in renewable energy generation this investment will put us at the forefront of capitalising on this environmental trend too.”
The increased capacity of South Australia’s pulse protein manufacturing industry is set to create up to 1345 construction jobs with 384 manufacturing jobs once the facility is online. It is estimated that the plant protein value chain will support more than 8,500 jobs by 2034, contributing in excess of $4 billion to national revenue.
“Fake Food” Summit Captures Industry Backing
Interest in the alternative foods scene has seen the launch of Australia’s first-ever dedicated industry event with the AltProteins22 conference due to be hosted in Melbourne on the 17 May.
While the event is being hosted by controversial “alternative protein think tank” Food Frontier, the wider agriculture industry seems to be backing the program with Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas billed as a speaker. Also on the program is David Jochinke, a Victorian Grain Grower and current vice president of the National Farmers Federation.
“As demand for new, sustainable sources of protein continues to grow globally, forums like AltProteins 22 are essential to foster critical conversations and collaborations that enable our food producers and policymakers to claim a leading role,” said Thomas King, founder of Food Frontier.