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By  Emily Lehmann 13 June 2024 3 min read

Key points

  • We need more protein from more sources, produced sustainably, to meet growing demand.
  • Our Future Protein Mission is partnering on innovation to deliver traditional proteins like meat, fish and legumes, as well as new proteins to complement them.
  • Protein Futures 2024 showcased new protein products and the partnerships needed to take them to grocery aisles.

By 2050, there will be an extra two billion mouths to feed globally. We served up innovative ideas at our second Protein Futures event to nourish this growing population and bring sustainable proteins to market. Let’s dig in!

Aussie innovation to turn beer waste into bread

Start-ups are key to taking ideas out of the lab and into supermarkets. Australian company Grainstone is working on ways to revolutionise the barley value chain. The company is turning beer waste into ingredients that can be used to make foods healthier and more sustainable.

Most beer is made with barley grain, but brewers only need the starchy part of it. The rest is left behind and is a good source of protein and other nutrients.

We’ve partnered with Grainstone to apply advanced technology to upcycle spent grain from barley into ingredients like a specialty flour and barley protein concentrate. These could be baked into breads or other products.

Grainstone is one of nine start-ups participating in our Venture Exchange Program, which is positioning innovative start-ups for success. Our first cohort, focused on future foods, has helped start-up companies to engage with the innovation ecosystems across Singapore and Australia, and explore collaboration opportunities. Each start-up pitched their ideas at our Protein Futures event, with Grainstone selected as the crowd favourite and pitch winner.

The Industry Innovation and Science Australia’s 2023 report highlights the need to support emerging and small companies – which make up the majority of Australia’s food system – to overcome barriers to collaboration and commercialisation. 

Cheers to that! Protein Futures pitch winner, Grainstone founder and CEO, Matthew Kronborg.

Delicious proteins on future menus

Other delectable new proteins being added to the future menu include fermented proteins, cultured meat and new plant-based protein products.

Vow is the first Australian company to secure approvals to sell a cultured meat product. Vow received regulatory approval to sell their cultured quail product to the Singaporean market earlier this year. Rather than using traditional farming techniques, cultured meat products are produced from animal cells in high-tech facilities.

Consumers can also expect to see animal and plant proteins come together in new food options. Hybrid protein products combine the inherent nutritional benefits of each source, like naturally occurring iron and B12 – found in red meat – along with plant fibre.

Australia’s traditional animal protein industries could enter new markets with health and wellness products using our Just Meat protein powder. Fancy steak in a shake? Try our sweet and nutritious Just Meat protein ball samples, which received a thumbs up from stakeholders.

Moving from alternative to complementary proteins

A massive challenge is ahead to help feed a growing world, under the constraints of limited resources and climate change. Echoed by industry leaders, we need all types of proteins – produced sustainably – to nourish the future.

Our Future Protein Mission is shifting the narrative from 'alternative' to complementary proteins. In order to meet demand we need to look at additional sources of protein, from traditional proteins like meat, fish and legumes, as well as new sources to complement them.

Our challenge is not to replace what we already produce. It is to add to our current protein production systems to meet future demand by using new, complementary protein sources and products.

Setting the scene at Protein Futures (L-R: Andrew Stevens – Chair, Industry innovation and Science Australia, Dr Katherine Wynn – our Lead Economist, Dr Rohan Nelson – Director, Food System Horizons and Dr Crispin Howitt – our Future Protein Mission lead).

Giving Australia a competitive edge

Our National Protein Roadmap highlights an extra $13 billion opportunity for Australia to meet protein demand by 2030. The whole innovation system needs to work together for a slice of the pie.

A key challenge and opportunity includes developing new infrastructure and manufacturing facilities to produce new proteins at scale. Our Future Protein Mission is creating new partnerships and research and development (R&D) projects between industry and the research sector to rapidly work on solutions.

For example, Australian company Cauldron is working to build large-scale precision fermentation facilities to support other Australian businesses in taking new fermentation-based proteins to market. Think egg made without the chicken, or milk made without the cow!

Mooving on… that’s a wrap on just some of the juicy insights we heard at Protein Futures 2024.


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