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ProForm Foods, an Australian plant-based protein supplier, has just opened its AU$11 million (US$8.1 million) manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Sydney, which will have the capacity to churn out 5,000 tonnes of plant-based meat annually. The factory opening coincides with the launch of the company’s new MEET brand of plant-based meat alternatives, to serve not only local demand but the growing appetite for healthier and sustainable proteins across the Asia-Pacific region.
Opened on Thursday (November 26), the new 1,600 square-metre factory located in Mount Kuring-Gai just north of Sydney will be able to produce 5,000 tonnes of ProForm Foods’ plant-based protein each year. ProForm, founded by Stephen Dunn, the brains behind Vogel’s Cereal and food industry veteran, and now directed by his son Matthew Dunn, also launched its new brand of plant-based meat that took more than a decade of development.
“We are incredibly excited to officially open the next-generation plant-based meat manufacturing facility. The global demand for plant-based products is booming, and our Australian innovation wins on both taste and texture,” said ProForm CEO Matthew Dunn.
Dubbed MEET, the brand will have a 4.5-star health rating and contains at least 70% Australian-made ingredients, with the other imported ingredients being U.S. non-GMO soy and mushroom powder supplied from Peru. Eventually, the company wants to source 100% of its raw materials locally.
The global demand for plant-based products is booming, and our Australian innovation wins on both taste and texture.Matthew Dunn, CEO, ProForm
There are 28 products in the line-up, including plant-based burgers, meatballs, beef-style strips, chicken tenders and minced meat, and will be rolling out in supermarket retailers across Australia next year. According to ProForm, their proprietary plant-based meat technology already supplies the base ingredient for existing Australian brands.
It is made using the company’s high-moisture cooking technique, which involves mixing plant-based proteins into a dough-like texture before cooling and heating it to recreate the fibrous textures and qualities of animal meat – and it’s won them the backing of the Australian federal government, supporting the opening of the new factory as part of the authorities’ plans to boost local food manufacturing.
Karen Andrews, the Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Innovation, who attended the opening, said the new facility presents an opportunity to “capitalise on Australia’s reputation for producing safe, premium, high-quality food,” and to help build “resilient supply chains” amidst the greater focus on food security in the wake of the coronavirus.
With plans already in the works to expand globally, we anticipate that the business will become a global leader in the US$4.3 billion plant-based meat industry, creating new jobs and export growth in Sydney and across the countryMatthew Dunn, CEO, ProForm
Andrews added that ProForm could pave the way for Australia to become a leading exporter of plant-based proteins as demand continues to grow across the region, especially in Asian cities like Singapore and Hong Kong, where consumers are actively reducing their meat consumption as a result of the pandemic. If the trend in the U.S. is any indication, shoppers are also likely to stick to their new habits, with 92% of first-time buyers in the country saying they’ll continue purchasing plant-based meats in the post-pandemic world.
ProForm already has plans in place to bring its products to international markets. “With plans already in the works to expand globally, we anticipate that the business will become a global leader in the US$4.3 billion plant-based meat industry, creating new jobs and export growth in Sydney and across the country,” said Dunn.
While the ProForm’s primary focus is on plant-based protein production, the company does also take a “holistic view” on “broader applications” of its technology.
“ProForm Foods technology can also be applied to the animal agriculture industry supply chain in making it more efficient by significantly reducing the 50,000+ tonnes of beef wastage alone discarded on an annual basis,” the company says on its website. This meat that would otherwise go to waste can be mixed with plant-based protein and turned into textured “flexitarian” meat, and would “support a higher yielding supply chain and reduce the overall environmental impact of the industry”.
All images courtesy of ProForm Foods.