SOUTH Australia is set to become a global leader in the multi-billion-dollar, plant-based food sector, after an almost $400 million investment was announced this week.
Thomas Foods International, Australian Plant Proteins and AGT Foods Australia have joined forces to build three manufacturing sites in the state to the tune of $378m.
TFI is Australias largest family-owned red meat processing company and is headquartered in SA with operations across Australia and in key international locations.
The SA government will commit $65m towards the venture, helping to create more than 3000 local jobs across the supply chain and a further 5000 jobs nationally.
The expanding industry is expected to generate $5.2 billion in GDP across the next 12 years.
APP, AGT and TFI have also been awarded $113m from the federal government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative, which seeks to build out Australia’s industrial scale sovereign capability manufacturing.
The project will establish three individual plant protein ingredient and food manufacturing facilities across the state’s regions.
In a press conference this morning, TFI managing director Darren Thomas said the step into plant-based proteins was something the company had been looking at for a number of years.
“Some of our overseas businesses are already selling this products,” he said.
“It’s important for us – it’s certainly not going to replace our core business.
“It’s not just about meat there’s milks, there’s all sorts of other opportunities.
“If I was a farmer, I’d wake up this morning and have a big smile on my face for the opportunity or further marketing opportunities they’re going to have.”
Although TFI is a primarily red meat-based business, Mr Thomas said the step into alternative proteins was a natural extension.
“We’re a food business – we do happen to play in the red meat sector, but we’re also in seafood, we’ve been in produce so for us, it’s a natural extension to our food business,” he said.
“People have got all sorts of choices, it’s just not about vegans, vegetarians or people that choose to eat red meat.
“From our perspective, we’re really excited that we’re going to a a lot more sustainable, environmentally friendly products, moving forward into into some of the current protein alternative protein products.”
Premier Steven Marshall said the announcement would create a large-scale plant-based food and beverage value chain for SA and unlock an entirely new export industry for the state, and the nation.
“SA is already world-renowned for our premium food and produce and we now have a first mover opportunity to capitalise on the emerging global demand for plant protein-based food,” he said.
“You need a strong economy to be able to invest in hospitals, schools and roads and you can trust my government to build a stronger future for all South Australians.
“We have the fastest growing economy in the nation, allowing us to invest in hospitals, schools and public services which have driven us to be independently recognised as the most liveable place in the nation, and third most liveable in the world.”
Trade and Investment Minister Stephen Patterson said the successful MMI funding would enable the establishment of state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in SA, in order to capitalise on rising global demand for plant-based foods and exports.
“The global plant protein market is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years reaching US$14.8 billion by 2023 and SA has a real opportunity to take advantage of this,” he said.
“In SA we already produce 75 per cent of Australia’s lentils, 38pc of fava beans and almost 35pc of field peas along with a well-established cropping sector but up until now these goods have been generally exported as bulk commodities.
“This announcement means that SA can exponentially increase the value generated from our lentil and legume crops by creating a new range of high-value plant protein food and beverage products that are in increasing demand around the world.
“It is estimated that the value of plant protein increases 20-fold across the value-chain, potentially turning our commodities into a new multi-billion export industry.”
TFIs new meat processing facility in Murray Bridge is also currently under construction.
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The story Aussie red meat giant looks to $378m plant-based investment first appeared on Stock Journal.