West Australian agri-food business Wide Open Agriculture (WOA), in conjunction with Curtin University, has successfully developed a number of early-stage food and beverage products using the company’s proprietary lupin protein ingredient. WOA Managing Director Dr Ben Cole has spoken previously about the company’s desire to utilise Australian-grown lupins in new ways, seeing the boom in plant-based meat alternatives as a way to add value to a commodity crop previously favoured as livestock feed. It is estimated that approximately 80 per cent of global lupin production occurs in Western Australia.

The prototype products are a significant milestone in commercial viability of incorporating the lupin protein ingredient (modified lupin protein concentrate or MLP) in multiple plant-based foods and beverages.

WOA’s trials demonstrated that MLP concentrates form stable gel matrices, which can act as a base for embedding meat-like fibres of plant protein for products like plant-based meats. Further product development is underway to create a plant-based meat burger using MLP for taste and nutritional testing.

“Additional meat alternatives such as plant-based sausage, chicken and mince will also be investigated in future research,” Dr Cole said. “Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Burcon utilise or manufacture plant-based proteins as the key ingredient of their current alternative meat range.

“With an increasing number of products becoming available in supermarkets globally, these products are being accessed by consumers as to their impact on climate change, animal-welfare concerns and potential health benefits they may have.”

WOA believes that if its trials of plant-based meat products are successful, there are a number of promising attributes in lupins that could make the company’s lupin-based products stand out in the market: lupins are low GI, high in protein and dietary fibre and gluten-free. Lupins also have a low carbon footprint, low water pollution and are an important component of regenerative farming systems.

READ MORE: Speeding up plant-based products [Farm Weekly]