The Weekly Advertiser

Protein blueprint ‘ideal’ for Wimmera development

Ralph Kenyon, Wimmera Development Association.

Ralph Kenyon, Wimmera Development Association.

A regional development leader has described confirmation of a multi-million-dollar protein-powder plant in Horsham as the ‘ideal’ blueprint for other regional value-adding opportunities.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Ralph Kenyon said news that Australian Plant Proteins would establish a processing centre in Horsham demonstrated the region’s ability to ‘think outside the square’.
“We’re really excited to see this project come to fruition, considering the work that has been undertaken over a period of years by many people with WDA,” he said.
“It shows we not only have the capacity of identifying value-adding opportunities in agriculture in the region, but the will to help make them happen.”
Mr Kenyon made the comments after Australian Plant Proteins, a subsidiary of Melbourne agribusiness investment company EAT Group, announced it would start manufacturing pulse-based protein powder from a Horsham factory later this year.
The project involves extracting high-value protein powder from pulses such as faba beans, lentils and chickpeas.
Critically, second-grade pulses, perhaps damaged by frost, would retain their value as the source of powder based on protein content.
A $20-million first stage of development at Horsham Industrial Estate will produce about 2500 tonnes of protein powder a year and lead to 20 jobs.
Plans are that a $15-million second phase, with a further 15 jobs, would double production to 5000 tonnes a year by the first quarter of 2021.
Mr Kenyon, who is retiring from his position this week, said the development reinforced the role Wimmera Development Association could play in supporting community ideas and projects.
He said it encapsulated the value of Wimmera Development Association in being able to use networks and contacts to work with a range of people from farmers through to scientists and food technologists. “The project originated from a group called the Grains Cluster, which was put together by WDA to look at potential of future projects and opportunities,” he said.
“People have been thinking outside the square to come up with solutions to dealing with, for example, second-grade crops that can dramatically lose value depending on the season.
“It’s about identifying intrinsic value of the agricultural products we produce.”
“This will form an ideal blueprint for consideration of other value-adding opportunities that might emerge in the future,” Mr Kenyon said.
The project has taken about a decade to develop from idea to reality and Mr Kenyon said the association had initially been fortunate in convincing the State Government of the time about the value of the idea.

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“It meant the association could formulate a business case and then take that to investors. Being able to take a risk on behalf of potential investors without the investors being exposed to initial risk can be crucial,” he said.
“It’s an excellent case study of what’s possible. The bonus is that apart from being able to generate 20 new jobs straight away, there will be other projects that might get started because of this project’s success.”
Mr Kenyon added that a spin-off from protein-powder production was a likely royalty payment back to the association as part of a handover of intellectual property.
“This will allow WDA to build a pool of funds to explore other opportunities,” he said.
“Establishing a plant in Horsham will benefit the whole Wimmera and southern Mallee. It will produce 2500 tonnes of product a year that will require, for each tonne, three to five tonnes of raw pulse material.
“It will pretty much soak up pulses currently produced but importantly provides an alternative market to sell the crop. The company is already tapping into the existing supply chain.
“This has not only established a wonderful new industry in the region, it’s also pushed the door of opportunity further open. It would have opened a lot of eyes and an understanding that this idea is now a reality.”
Horsham mayor Mark Radford described the development as ‘fantastic’.
“It has a lot of ticks about it. It’s more than just a good idea, it’s actually happening and it all sounds pretty good,” he said.
“It’s fantastic that it’s coming to our region – it’s going to create opportunities on and off the land.”

The entire February 27, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire February 27, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Feb 27 2019

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