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Australian pulses meet the global demand for alternative proteins

Australian pulses

Australian pulses will help meet the growing demand for alternative meats, dairy and other plant protein foods under newly funded research from the University of Sydney. 

The Transitioning Australian Pulses into Protein-based Food Industries project was awarded $993,573 in the latest round under the Global Innovation Linkages Program. 

Looking at ways to convert Australian grown pulses into plant protein ingredients and foods, the project will be funded over three years and receive private sector support. 

The annual value of the alternative meats, dairy, beverage and egg food sectors is set to rise globally to around $55 billion by 2025. Australia’s plant protein market is forecast to be worth $4.03 billion a year by 2030. 

Currently most plant proteins are derived from soybean and yellow pea, which have limited scope in Australian agriculture. The University of Sydney (USYD) team from the faculties of Science and Engineering will investigate turning Australian-grown pulses into plant protein ingredients and foods.  

“Australia produces about three million tonnes of chickpeas, faba (or fava) beans, mung beans, lupin, field peas and lentils a year,” USYD Faculty of Science lead researcher, from the Sydney Institute of Agriculture, Professor Brent Kaiser said. 

“These crops are high in dietary protein and sustainable. What’s lacking is the refining technology required to turn Australian pulses into protein ingredients with the correct flavour and functionality needed for food manufacturing.” 

Kaiser and professors Fariba Dehghani, Roman Buckow and Timothy Langrish will investigate refining processes to extract protein concentrates and isolates from Australia’s commonly grown pulse varieties. 

Working alongside industry partners AEGIC, Roquette, Clextral, All G Foods and Wide Open Agriculture, they aim to develop and commercialise pulse-specific processing technologies. 

“Our aim is do this while also minimising water and energy consumption,” Kaiser said. 

“At the end of this three-year project, we envisage Australia’s plant protein food and ingredient sector will be sufficiently established to encourage local investment in protein fractionation plants, which produce proteins from pulses, across Australia. 

According to Kaiser, Australia produces about four per cent of the world’s pulses. 

“Working with domestic and international partners with expertise in pulse seed processing and food manufacturing, we will fill a critical gap in the local plant protein food supply chain,” he said. 

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