Global Agriculture

GRDC infrastructure investment to value-add for Australian pulses

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19 April 2023, AU: The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has announced the first of its national infrastructure investments, awarding the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) over half a million dollars to purchase new equipment to support pulse protein research.

The grant is part of a wider $20 million investment program to build Australia’s grains research capacity and support the enduring profitability of the nation’s grain growers.

GRDC chair John Woods announced the investment in Perth today (April 19), saying that AEGIC would receive $567,000 for the purchase and installation of equipment to support the dry fractionation of pulse protein.

AEGIC is Australia’s leading organisation for market insight, innovation and applied solutions for the grains industry. Its primary purpose is to increase value in the Australian grains industry by ensuring Australian grain meets the needs of customers and end-users.

“GRDC’s dedicated national infrastructure program is designed to support research partners in creating critical, long-term capacity and capability,” Mr Woods says.

“By 2030, it’s estimated that the plant protein market in Australia will be valued at $3.2 billion. Plant protein markets are growing rapidly across the Asia Pacific region, and we have an opportunity to create significant new value for pulses.

“The equipment purchased through this grant will expand the scope for Australian pulses in three areas: import replacement, protein ingredient export and expanded domestic plant protein consumption.

“Growth of these markets will provide value-adding opportunities and diversify demand for Australian pulses. This means Australian growers will face less risk in their pulse production. This investment will enable emerging opportunities.”

AEGIC chair Ron Storey says that the infrastructure investment fits perfectly with Australia’s opportunity to lead innovation in plant protein research to secure growing demand in Asia.

“We are thrilled to receive this GRDC infrastructure grant. It will increase AEGIC’s plant protein research capacity, drive innovation in pulse protein manufacturing in Australia, create opportunity for import replacement of protein ingredients, and advance the use of Australian pulses as a source of plant protein for global markets,” Mr Storey says.

“This capital investment, together with AEGIC’s market connections, analytical experience, and research expertise, will build capability in AEGIC to increase value for growers and the pulse value chain.”

Dry fractionation of pulses involves specialised milling and air classification technology to produce protein and starch-enriched fractions.

This process is more energy and water efficient, providing an economic and sustainable alternative to wet fractionation methods. For this reason, it is anticipated that dry fractionation methods will become the dominant way to produce plant protein ingredients in the long term.

A recently published paper by AEGIC researchers in Legume Science highlighted pulse protein opportunities for Australian faba beans, yellow peas and red lentils. AEGIC is working with industry partners who are developing applications for these products, with a view to commercialisation in the future.

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