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Isolate Manufacturer Australian Plant Proteins Enters Voluntary Administration – vegconomist

Isolate Manufacturer Australian Plant Proteins Enters Voluntary Administration – vegconomist

Australian Plant Proteins (APP), the only manufacturer of Australian-grown faba bean and pulse protein isolates, has entered voluntary administration.

APP operates the largest of three commercial-scale plant protein fractionation facilities in Australia, producing 1200 tonnes of isolates per year at the site in Horsham, Victoria. The ingredients are used by domestic and overseas companies in products such as breakfast cereals, breads, bakery goods, snack foods, and meat and dairy alternatives.

Melbourne-based financial and business advisory firm Romanis Cant has been appointed as administrator, with the hope that APP will be sold as a going concern. It is unclear why the company ran into trouble, but a plan to construct further manufacturing facilities may have been partially responsible; the federal and South Australian governments were initially set to provide a $107 million grant for the project, but this was withdrawn following a disagreement regarding clauses in the legal agreement. Despite this, APP attempted to continue the expansion, which may have led to financial difficulties.

Some may claim that the news indicates reduced interest in plant-based foods, since Australian plant-based meat manufacturer ProForm Foods also recently entered administration. However, this does not seem to be the case; a report published by alternative protein think tank Food Frontier in May shows that Australian plant-based meat sales increased by 47% between 2020 and 2023. Additionally, a Griffith University study from September 2023 found that 32.2% of Australians had reduced their consumption of conventional meat in the preceding year.

© Australian Plant Proteins

Lack of government commitment

Last year, Food Frontier reported that the Australian alt protein industry has grown tenfold but is being held back by bottlenecks. These include limited infrastructure capacity, a shortage of skilled workers, and an inadequate local supply of crops and other ingredients.

In a statement published last week, Food Frontier CEO Dr Simon Eassom blamed the Australian government for the difficulties faced by APP, arguing that the situation is not a case of the failure of an individual company.

“This is a warning that building a long-term sustainable industry takes time, ongoing investment, and commitment from government,” he said. “This is especially important in regional areas where employment and valued-added industries are needed. If we contrast Australia with a world leader in this sector, the government-sponsored Protein Industries Canada has co-invested $190 million in the time since APP was founded in 2016 and is strategically assembling and supercharging Canada’s domestic plant protein industry to reach $27.5 billion by 2035.

“Sadly, the potential closure of Australian Plant Proteins pushes Australia further behind countries such as Canada and China and resigns Australian manufacturers to relying on the importation of soybean concentrates and protein ingredients, often of variable quality and suitability.”

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