Australian researchers are working to expand the use of Australian pulses as a source of plant protein for global markets.

The Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) is studying the potential for faba beans, yellow peas, red lentils, and mung beans to be processed into proteins that can be used in products such as protein powders, plant-based meats, breads, noodles, animal feed pellets, and many more. 

AEGIC is an initiative of the Western Australian State Government and Grains Australia. Collaborating with the University of Sydney and a range of industry partners, the researchers are evaluating different pulses for processing efficiency, nutritional composition, protein functionality, and sensory and shelf-life attributes.

AEGIC food scientist (milling) Chris Whiteway, left, and AEGIC senior research scientist Daniel Skylas with pulse samples at AEGIC Sydney.
AEGIC food scientists with pulse samples at AEGIC Sydney. Image via AEGIC.

In addition, funding from the government’s Global Innovation Linkages Programme along with an $567,000 infrastructure investment from Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) will allow AEGIC’s Sydney team to establish a pilot facility for the dry processing of pulse protein. 

As an example of pulses’ potential, AEGIC Sydney says it has found that including just 15 percent mungbean protein concentrate in instant wheat noodles increases the overall protein content by 50 percent compared to regular instant noodles.   

GRDC says the processing methods under development must ensure that the final product has acceptable texture and quality attributes in terms of flavour, mouth feel and industrial manufacturing requirements.

According to Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, the plant protein market is estimated to be a $6 billion opportunity for Australia by 2030.

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