Plant protein ingredient company Harvest B has been announced as one of the first six Australian companies to receive a grant from the Federal Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) Commercialisation Fund. The Fund was established to develop a highly skilled and resilient local manufacturing industry that delivers high-value products to domestic and international markets. Harvest B is the only food company chosen for the first round of grants and was the largest recipient,  receiving $1m. In addition to the AMCG grant, Harvest B has also secured venture capital funding in a round led by Aura Ventures and W23, the venture capital arm of grocery giant Woolworth’s,  taking their total fundraising up to $4.5 million.

Founded in mid-2020, Harvest B’s business model represents a growing opportunity for Australian farmers to sell their crops into a new value-added supply chain for plant proteins – a critical ingredient input for the growing alternative proteins industry. The B2B company will utilise sustainably produced crops such as wheat to create “high-performing ingredients” for food companies to utilise in the production of their own plant-based meat products.

One of the company’s three co-founders and CEO, Kristi Riordan, explained to Food Frontier that the company was founded in part, to overcome the supply issues that she and her co-founders (Werner Fuggersberger and Alfred Lo) had identified when attempting to source high-performing plant-protein ingredients in Australia.

“(Harvest B co-founder) Werner has over 30 years’ experience in Australian food manufacturing, working closely with the meat industry to develop high quality ingredient systems. But when it came to applying that knowledge to plant-based meat, the ingredients he could access in Australia were limited in both supply and performance,” Riordan said.

“We could also see that despite having a brilliant agricultural industry, Australia produces a relatively low amount of value-added exports compared to neighbours such as New Zealand. There was an untapped opportunity to give farmers the opportunity to add value to their crops.” 

The founders noted that Australia does not have the necessary infrastructure needed to support a local plant protein ingredient supply chain, particularly when it comes to processing the raw ingredients on shore – something which Harvest B intends to remedy. “For the plant-based meat category to scale, we need a supply chain, and we need to improve access to high quality Australian ingredients for plant-based foods,” Riordan explained. “Infrastructure development will be crucial over the next few years.”

Harvest B plans to use the AMGC grant to invest in local advanced manufacturing to develop a production facility in NSW and R&D to identify the Australian crops that can successfully be used as and enhanced protein ingredients.

READ MORE: Meet Harvest B, the new kid on the plant-based meat block that just raised $4.5 million [Smart Company]