Future of Food

At a glance

Australian regenerative food and agriculture company, Wide Open Agriculture (WOA), has announced it has entered into an exclusive sales distribution agreement with trading house Nissei Kyoeki to introduce its lupin-based protein in Japan. 

The new partnership came after WOA acquired a leading European lupin protein producer, Prolupin, giving WOA immediate commercial-scale manufacturing capabilities in Europe. The two prominent deals will allow WOA to globalize its operations and to produce and supply more lupin-based protein than ever before — Up to 1,000 tonnes per annum. 

“This collaboration is a milestone in our journey to expand the reach of Buntine Protein. Nissei’s expertise and extensive network provide an invaluable platform to introduce our innovative lupin proteins to discerning customers in Japan and beyond,” said Jay Albany, WOA CEO, in a recent announcement

According to WOA, Buntine Protein is a plant-based protein derived from lupin grown in West Australia and can be used to create plant-based dairy, meats, baked goods, protein supplements and more. Buntine Protein marked the move of WOA’s Lupin protein program from pilot to commercial scale in 2023. The company recently fulfilled its first direct orders of Buntine Protein and of Prolupin’s isolate.

Lupin is not a new crop and people have been consuming it for centuries. What sets it apart from other pulses in the value-added sphere is its high content of essential amino acids, fibre and protein, around 34-44%, according to the National Institute of Health. Lupin is also gluten- and soy-free, non-GMO and low in carbohydrates, fat and sugar. Moreover, lupin crops are climate tolerant and ideal for fixing nitrogen into the ground and recovering poor soil. However, many lupin varieties naturally have a bitter taste, which has limited their farming scale and led the industry to favour soy and pea as protein sources for the human palate. 

WOA has developed patented technology that allows it to produce shelf-stable, soluble and neutral flavour protein-rich isolate powders. Global plant-based food organizations like Plant B, Mikuna and Wicked Kitchen have all made significant contributions to the lupin protein market with unique technologies and innovative products that showcase the versatility of lupin protein.

In addition, in August of last year, a team of researchers identified a way to sweeten wild lupins. This will enable breeders and farmers to produce more edible bitter-free lupins that are cheaper and a more eco-friendly alternative to soybeans. 

The scientific discoveries and commercial expansions made in the last few years in relation to lupin have advanced its portfolio as a powerful, efficient and high-performance protein source. Forecast shows that the lupins are expected to significantly grow in the next decade. According to Future Market Insights, the lupin protein market, currently valued at $98.8 million, is estimated to surge to $159.7 million by 2033.