Australia’s leading regenerative food and agriculture company, Wide Open Agriculture, has secured an exclusive global licence from Curtin University to develop plant-based protein from the lupin bean. Lupin has super high protein rivalling the protein content of soy but without needing genetic modification or phytoestrogens.
The license enables WOA to commercialise a proprietary technology which unlocks the potential for Australian sweet lupins to be used as a protein source for human consumption. Currently, only 4% of commercial lupins are used for human consumption and 96% is for animal feed.
Plant-based foods are no longer a niche item in Australia with local companies like Made with Plants making huge strides whilst Western giants like Impossible Foods are also entering into the country’s food market.
The lupin has not been commercially viable in the past due to its texture but this technology enables it to gel and thicken and therefore act as a viable ingredient for plant-based products including meat, eggs, dairy, and gluten-free products. It can be grown in low nutrient soils, it has high protein digestibility and has a low glycaemic index making it an attractive ingredient for the human food sector.
Western Australia currently produces over 60% of the global production of the Australian sweet lupin and is the leading global exporter, this is good news for WOA and the Australian plant-based protein market which is estimated to be worth AUD$ 3billion by 2030.
Data from Research and Markets 2019 evidences that the global plant-based protein market is worth about US$18 billion per annum and is growing rapidly at 14% each year. It is predicted this market will be worth US$40 billion by 2025. Currently, soy and pea are the leading sources of plant protein globally for human consumption.
Wide Open Agriculture managing director Dr Ben Cole stated: “Lupin is an extraordinarily good source of plant-based protein and yet only 4% of lupin is currently consumed by humans. 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.”