Meat processor Thomas Foods goes flexitarian to make SA a plant protein powerhouse

Meat processor Thomas Foods goes flexitarian to make SA a plant protein powerhouse

Adelaide-based meat processing giant Thomas Foods International has joined forces with Australian Plant Proteins and Australian Milling Group to make South Australia a plant protein powerhouse as part of a $378 million project.

The consortium will use the funds to construct three plant protein manufacturing facilities in SA, which is expected to create more than 8,500 full-time positions by 2034.

The federal government has committed $113 million towards the project under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI), while the state government has injected $65 million.

Australian Plant Proteins co-founder and director Brendan McKeegan told Business News Australia the design of its facility will commence immediately, with it to be situated in the north of Adelaide.

The Melbourne-based company sells “bulk protein ingredients” to food manufacturers from grain legumes (or pulses) such as faba beans, lentil and chickpeas, which are currently processed and packaged in Werribee and Horsham.  

For McKeegan, the new venture is a significant boost for the company’s manufacturing capabilities and the country's ability to compete in the global market. 

“[It] puts us on a global scale and a level playing field with Canadians, who are the world leaders,” McKeegan said.

“We'll be able to compete with them internationally through supplying plant protein products and ingredients to global markets.

“For the first time [we'll be able to] supply to scale plant protein in Australian manufacturers.”

The venture will quadruple production in SA and produce 25,000 tonnes of pulse protein per annum.

Minister for Finance and Senator for South Australia Simon Birmingham said the investment is win for SA’s pulse farmers and would take the state’s manufacturing capabilities to “a whole new level.”

“This investment by Government along with the private sector will put SA ahead of the pack in the manufacturing of products for the high-growth domestic and booming global plant-based foods market,” Birmingham said. 

“It will not only generate thousands of local jobs but has the potential to generate billions in export dollars for our state.”

“Demand for plant-based foods is booming globally. Just as SA leads Australia in renewable energy generation this investment will put us at the forefront of capitalising on this environmental trend too.”

The project is expected to create up to 1,345 construction jobs and 384 new direct manufacturing jobs by 2024.

“South Australia 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,” Premier Steven Marshall said.

“Today’s announcement is all about creating more jobs, opening the door for more South Australian exports and making sure we create a stronger future for our kids and grand-kids.”

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