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Wide Open Agriculture (ASX:WOA) - Managing Director, Dr Ben Cole - The Market Herald
Managing Director, Dr Ben Cole
Sourced: Farm Weekly
  • Wide Open Agriculture (WOA) has entered the multi-billion dollar plant-based protein industry through an agreement with Curtin University
  • Together, the parties will develop and commercialise a plant-based lupin protein technology
  • Plant-based protein is used to make alternatives within the meat, dairy, beverage and egg sectors
  • As of 2019, the global market was estimated to be valued at US$18.5 billion - this is expected to reach over US$40 billion by 2025
  • Lupin is a high protein, regenerative legume and 60 per cent of global production occurs here in WA
  • This deal provides the company an advantage to launch a lupin-based protein in a high-growth sector
  • Company shares have soared 50 per cent and are trading for 21 cents each

Wide Open Agriculture (WOA) has signed an agreement with Curtin University for the development and commercialisation of a plant-based lupin protein technology.

The company will have the option to an exclusive global licence that covers the unique method for creating a novel plant-based protein from Australian sweet lupin, its use as a plant-based protein food ingredient and allows WOA to develop and launch products to compete in multiple food categories.

Plant-based protein market

Plant-based protein is used to make food alternatives within the meat, dairy, beverage and egg sectors. As of 2019, the global market was estimated to be valued at US$18.5 billion. It's expected to grow by 14 per cent per year to reach US$40.6 billion by 2025.

The Australian market alone is expected to be valued at A$3 billion by 2030.

The main factors driving the growth of plant-based protein include climate change, animal-welfare concerns, and a greater interest in wellness. The fact that there's an increasing number of plant-based brands and alternatives in the supermarkets, such as Beyond Meat, is also contributing to the growth.

Additionally, a number of food industry giants, such as Kellogg's' MorningStar Farms brand and Nestle's Sweet Earths Brand, are seeking exposure to this high growth sector.

The Good Food Institute says US$13 billion has been invested in the plant-based food industry in the past two years.

Western Australia is a leading global exporter in that it produces over 60 per cent of global production of Australian sweet lupin. Lupin seed contains high levels of protein and has the benefits of being non-genetically modified with a low glycaemic index (low GI).

Development plans

Under the agreement, WOA and Curtin University will begin to refine the novel technology's production process to convert raw lupin into a viable protein source to produce high-quality food products.

"Lupin is an extraordinarily good source of plant-based protein and yet only 4% of lupin are currently consumed by humans," Managing Director Dr Ben Cole said.

"Curtin’s technology represents an opportunity to produce a plant-based protein that could elevate lupin into a rapidly growing sector of the food market," Ben added.

To secure initial pilot-scale supply, Wide Open Agriculture will engage with regenerative lupin farmers to find suitable options from a variety of climatic and soil conditions in Western Australia's Wheatbelt.

The company plans to manage the product development and testing of meat, egg, pasta, and dairy using the lupin protein.

After establishing product viability, WOA will develop a strategy to market the products and begin discussions with food manufacturers. The parties expect initial sales will come from the Australian market, with the potential to distribute globally or partner with global plant-based protein leaders.

This deal complete's WOA's trilogy of regenerative products including livestock, oats and lupin.

Company shares have soared 50 per cent and are trading for 21 cents each at 11:44 am AEST.


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