Local Businesses to Take WA’s Alternative Protein Advances Abroad

Published on 04 August 2021

Concept image of the Innovation Centre at the Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct

Western Australia is taking a deep dive into the production of alternative proteins with six pioneering businesses set to expand state efforts in the global market, with a particular focus on Singapore.

As participants in the X-Protein Lab program, a Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct initiative, the businesses will be mentored by industry experts from Singapore and Australia, through their research and development efforts, technology readiness, intellectual property considerations, product-market fit, business models, consumer and market acceptance, investment potential and global relevance.

The businesses will also interact with like-minded Singapore startups, link into the regional and global agri-food financing eco-system and receive three-months access to the Precinct’s Innovation Centre when it opens mid-2022.

Ainsley Agroforestry and Aquaponics Pty. Ltd., a tree farm based in Greenough, will explore the production of alternative plant-protein from dried powdered leaves of Moringa oleifera trees, which will initially be grown in the state’s mid-west.

Whole Green Foods Pty. Ltd. will introduce Western Australia and the world to their novel proprietary processing and extraction technology. Through the program they will validate their technology and business model to rapidly scale up the business, both in Australia and abroad. The company is a finalist in the 2021 Western Australian Innovator of the Year Awards in the category of Emerging Innovation.

Jarra Infusion Wholesale Pty. Ltd. will focus on business development and commercialisation to enable the supply of a range of plant-based products across WA, interstate and overseas. They will also explore the opportunities offered through mycelium-based protein and the medicinal benefits of mushrooms, for incorporation in their range.

The Lupin Co. will investigate Australian Sweet Lupin as a concentrated protein source for the global food market for tailored foods, specific to consumer needs including for sport, management of diabetes, obesity and other health issues as well as infant health and aged care.  

Furthering the state’s share in the lupin market, Wide Open Agriculture will work through the X-Protein Lab program’s networks to introduce, both to Australia and Asia, its patented process of transforming Australian Sweet Lupin into a format applicable for multiple food and drink categories. The company also hopes to grow Western Australia's regenerative farming practices.

The state’s first edible insect farm, Grubs Up Australia, will seek to expand their target market internationally, for their product range which currently includes protein roasted crickets, roasted mealworms and high-protein powder. The company also hopes to explore the production of ready-to-eat products such as pre-workout high protein bars, muesli bars, health food snacks, protein balls, breakfast granola and pancake mixes.

On Wednesday 3 August, Precinct General Manager Dr. Chris Vas eagerly announced the businesses that would be taking part in the X-Protein Lab program.

“The shift toward plant-based foods is a growing global movement toward healthier eating and environmental responsibility.

“The global plant-based ingredients market is projected to grow exponentially over the next four or so years and our businesses are in viable positions to capitalise on this opportunity.

“The projects and products will grow the state’s capacity to supply sustainable sources of protein, with considerable health and environmental benefits, to the Western Australian, Australian and ASEAN markets as a gateway to the rest of the world,” Dr. Vas said.

X-Protein Lab program and Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct Experts in Residence include Dr. Natasha Teakle and Dr. Regine Stockman from Australia and Mr. Gerard Chia and Professor Paul Teng from Singapore.

As the founder of AgriStart, Dr. Natasha Teakle is empowering businesses to support regional development and delivering investment ready programs across regional Western Australia.

Dr. Regine Stockman is a Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO Agriculture and Food, the Team Leader for the Food Technology Team as well as the Focus Area Leader for Future Proteins - Ingredients and Foods. Dr. Stockman has worked in food product and process development for almost 20 years with a focus on separation processing to derive functional fractions and ingredients for use in foods.

Mr. Gerard Chia is a Partner at Singapore-headquartered VisVires New Protein. Mr. Chia is focused on investments and business development and backs ambitious teams who are delivering transformative solutions for a healthier, safer and more sustainable agri-food system.

Professor Teng is the Managing Director at NIE International Pty. Ltd. and Senior Advisor (Agrifood) to A*Star, Singapore’s premier technology research and development organisation with substantial investments in agtech and the food industry. Professor Teng has expertise in food security, agri- and bio- technology innovations and entrepreneurship and sustainable development.

The X-Protein Lab program is supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Peel Development Commission and the Shire of Murray.