A shared passion
GrainCorp, CSIRO and v2food partner on $4.4million plant-based protein research
March 29, 2022

GrainCorp has partnered with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and leading plant-based food producer v2food on a $4.4million research project in the fast-growing plant-based protein market.

The partnership will work towards building Australian processing and manufacturing expertise to reduce reliance on imported ingredients and to add more value to grains and oilseeds so they can be used in new products.

Australia is the world’s second largest exporter of canola seed[1], with GrainCorp keen to build domestic manufacturing and supply chains for plant-based protein ingredients as a major exporter. 

GrainCorp received the funding from the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) Program, to separate and manufacture proteins from canola, soy and fava beans and chickpeas at commercial volumes.  

The partnership will research proteins found in soybeans, among other crops. Image: CSIRO

GrainCorp Managing Director & CEO Robert Spurway said the partners will identify infrastructure needs for commercialisation and put Australian grains and oilseeds growers at the forefront of the world’s plant protein market.

“We are well placed to participate in the plant protein boom and we are confident the sector can comfortably co-exist, and indeed flourish, alongside our essential animal protein industry,” he said.

“Our partnership aims to create a commercial plant protein supply chain that benefits Aussie growers and food and aquafeed manufacturers, as well as consumers.

“We’ll be able to access new export markets and meet growing domestic demand while creating jobs and informing future research and development into high-quality plant varieties.”

Global consumer trends are driving demand for plant protein and it represents an attractive opportunity for Australian agriculture.

Robert Spurway, GrainCorp CEO

A key focus of the collaboration will be adding value to existing plant protein capabilities at GrainCorp’s oilseed processing site in Numurkah, Victoria.

CSIRO will bring its expertise in science, food technology, agronomy and genetics to the collaboration.

Professor Michelle Colgrave who specialises in proteins research and leads the CSIRO Future Protein Mission, said the collective research power of the three organisations will push faster outcomes for Australia.

“We grow many plant crops in Australia but typically export these as commodities. If we can add value through product development, research and processing, we can export them at a higher price,” Prof Colgrave said.

“The project will be a game changer for Australian food manufacturers, including small-to-medium enterprises that can leverage our research to deliver new products for consumers,”

Australia boasts significant natural resources, a strong farming sector and world-class research and development capabilities through CSIRO and industry groups.

v2food CEO Nick Hazell said the research supported a thriving Australian agricultural and value-added manufacturing sector.

“It is important for the sector to operate at scale, and with end-to-end domestic capability, which will create resilience and boost global competitiveness,” he said.

“We are assessing options across the plant protein spectrum, including in soy protein, to potentially replace imported soy protein concentrate with locally produced production and processing.”

The research project is expected to culminate in 2023 following a staged approach to process development, pilot scale protein fractionation, sensory evaluation and product application.

Alternative protein:

There is growing interest in food products based on alternative proteins that are often manufactured from plant-based ingredients such as oilseeds like soy, canola and hemp, or pulses like chickpea, fava bean and pea.

Based on current demographic and consumer trends, CSIRO analysis estimates that the domestic and export opportunity for alternative proteins could reach $4.1billion and $2.5billion respectively by 2030[2].

About v2food:

v2food is an Australian company established to address the global sustainability challenge.

It works with Australian farmers to make healthy, sustainable and tasty plant-based protein food for consumers demanding food choices based on improving their health and that of the environment.

v2food was officially founded in January 2019 by Nick Hazell and a partnership between Jack Cowin’s Competitive Foods and CSIRO’s investment fund Main Sequence Ventures, who were inspired to tackle the impending protein shortage that faces Australia and the world.

About CSIRO and the Future Protein Mission:

CSIRO is Australia’s national science agency and innovation catalyst, solving the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology. 

There is a large opportunity for Australian businesses to create new jobs and economic growth through new Australian protein products, ingredients and industries.

The aim of CSIRO’s Future Protein Mission is to capture a $10 billion opportunity for Australia’s growers and producers to create the future protein for the world’s growing population.

The Mission will protect and grow existing livestock and aquaculture industries, develop new plant-based products and use new technologies, such as biomanufacturing to create new proteins or even transform waste products into high value food products.

[1] Australian Oilseeds Federation: http://www.australianoilseeds.com/oilseeds_industry#:~:text=Canola%20%E2%80%93%20the%20Australian%20oilseed%20in,crushers%20and%20intensive%20livestock%20producers

[2] Growth Opportunities for Australian food and agribusiness: Economic analysis and market sizing(September 2020).

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Jess Simons

Corporate Affairs & Government Relations Manager

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